“I refuse to allow the City and its administration to take the brunt of non-delivery issues in the event of programmes designed to assist the community being disrupted.”
That is the unequivocal message from Hout Bay and Llandudno ward councillor Roberto Quintas after a closed meeting to address business concerns relating to the ongoing housing project in Imizamo Yethu descended into “mayhem” on Friday February 10.
Altercations between some members of the appointed housing steering committee and the Imizamo Yethu Movement eventually forced the meeting to be postponed.
A complaint of assault has also been laid against IY Movement chairperson Mkhululi Ndude.
The closed meeting at Sijonga-Phambili Community Learning Centre had been called to address people who operated businesses from containers in the informal settlement, and the potential need to relocate some of these containers to make way for housing.
It was attended by City representatives from the urban development authority, transport, environment and roads, as well as stakeholders from a number of NGOs.
According to Mr Quintas, members of the IY Movement had not been invited to the meeting but were given the option of “observing” developments while not participating.
“This meeting was specifically aimed at business owners, which was why it was a closed meeting. However, the group of about 20 people from the IY Movement arrived and it was absolute mayhem. They started shouting and screaming and questioned the legitimacy of the housing steering committee.”
“It almost descended into a brawl. They said they would not allow any meetings organised by the City in Imizamo Yethu to take place without them being there,.” he said.
At this stage we decided that it was pointless to carry on, and postponed the meeting. It is very disappointing that the IY Movement is quite prepared to derail this project.”
He added it was not the first time that members of this group had disrupted proceedings.
“They have previously threatened to impede the roads project. It is exceptionally selfish to hold back infrastructure development which will benefit the community, almost all of whom are behind these projects. The political majority of Imizamo Yethu is also working with us, and the City is doing its best and has the political and administrative will to have a positive influence, but I refuse to allow the City and administration to take the blame for non-delivery when such incidents occur.”
However, Mr Ndude told the Sentinel they had every right to participate in the meeting, as one of its members, businessman John Katemba, owned a container. This container was razed in an apparent petrol bombing last month (“Patrollers’ homes bombed”, Sentinel, January 29).
Mr Ndude said the IY Movement was formed a year ago to “fight corruption” in governmental structures.
“We knew Friday’s meeting was to address business owners, but one of our members didn’t even know anything about it. We then went to Sijonga-Phambili. When we got there, we were told that we were not supposed to be there, but I told them that as a registered organisation which represents the community we wanted to hear what will happen about this development,” he said.
“We must be involved in everything that happens. There was a previous meeting, and even here the officials did not want to listen to us. It seems to us like these officials are not interested in what happens to the community.”
He said he advised the representatives that if they were truly standing for the community, they should take all views into account.
“That was when they postponed the meeting. What I can tell you is that if they have meetings elsewhere, it doesn’t matter if it’s the Waterfront, if we hear about it we will go there.”
Chief among the IY Movement’s concerns, Mr Ndude said, was the make-up of the housing steering committee.
“We had no problem with the City representatives or the councillor, but we do not recognise some of the members of the steering committee. Some of them do not even belong to registered organisations.”
He acknowledged that an argument had broken out between the IY Movement and members of the steering committee, and said a charge of assault had been laid against him.
Kenny Tokwe, who sits on the steering committee, said once the meeting had been postponed, one of the IY Movement members had come up to him and “shaken” him by the chest.
“At that point, another member of our steering committee, Gary Krweqe, tried to intervene.
“Ndude and another guy then came up and started manhandling Gary. He later went to Hout Bay police station laid a complaint of assault.”
Mr Tokwe said Hout Bay police station commander Colonel Khuthala Nebhisi had agreed to sit with the various parties to see if a solution could be found. This was confirmed by police spokesperson Warrant Officer Tanya Lesch. She also confirmed that a case of assault had been opened.
According to Mr Quintas, the IY Movement only came to be known in August last year and the organisation was only officially registered towards the end of last year.
“In fact I encouraged them to formalise so they would have the opportunity to sit on steering committees. Now they want to derail these projects. Can you imagine if every time a new organisation is formed we would have to stop our projects? We would never get anything done.”