Protest halts construction work

Construction at the sports complex came to a halt when protesters stormed onto the site and demanded that workers down tools.

After protesters from Imizamo Yethu stormed onto the site of the area’s housing project and sports complex, forcing the work to come to an abrupt halt, the City of Cape Town is now trying to resume construction.

Protesters threatened and assaulted contractors and workers at the IY Housing Phase 3 Project as well as the current improvement project at the Hout Bay Sports Complex on Monday April 26.

The City approached the courts for an interdict to ensure that the projects were allowed to continue.

Ward councillor Roberto Quintas also confirmed that project funds would have to be used to secure the site, workers and infrastructure.

“The group approached workers on-site and demanded that they stop working. They then proceeded to grab workers’ tools and started throwing them around, causing fear and mayhem.

“They continued this act of aggression by taking keys from the various plant and machinery and instructed all the workers to go down to the contractor site camp and menaced workers with rocks whilst making these demands,” Mr Quintas said.

The housing project in IY has already been delayed due to fires, protect action, vandalism, and Covid-19, but will now experience yet another set back.

“This group is currently costing the tax and ratepayers approximately R19 000 in standing fees per day due to the contractor not being able to go to site, as well as costing the residents of IY who have been waiting patiently for many years of seeing this project continue with its purpose, which is to provide dignity to long waiting housing beneficiaries,” Mr Quintas said.

The protesters’ demanded immediate employment and said they would not allow work to continue until this had been met. They also demanded that the City deviate from the legislated City Job Seekers/EPWP database in order to allow for this.

“Before leaving, they returned the plant keys to the contractor, and informed him that they would return the following day to start working. An hour later they returned to ensure that no work was taking place. They also threatened the workers from the community that they would find them after hours if they continued working,” Mr Quintas said.

Two days later, the angry protesters returned to the site, this time armed with weapons.

The same group then approached workers the next day, as they were arrive at the site and informed them that they were planning to vandalise and sabotage the newly constructed gabion boxes, which have been packed on-site. These help to secure the foundations on which the buildings are constructed.

Similar action disrupted work at the sports complex. The improvements to the complex were accepted by the community via public participation in 2017 but could not take place due to the field being used as an Emergency Displacement Area. The project was further delayed by budget reallocations due to Day Zero drought disaster avoidance and then again due to Covid-19.

The City said it had the names, contact details and addresses of those who had “attempted to extort public money in a manner that can only be described as daylight thuggery”.

Mr Quintas confirmed that the contractor had opened a case of intimidation against the group.

Sentinel News obtained the numbers of some of the alleged protesters, none of whom were willing to speak to the media.

Sentinel News reached out to IY community leaders but they did not want to comment on the matter for fear for their safety.