Protest violence condemned by Vrygrond residents

Picture Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency/ANA

The Vrygrond Community Development Forum has made it clear that violence is not part of their agenda in their quest for housing.

Mike Khumalo, chairperson for the forum, said the group wants to highlight the plight of the people for housing in the overcrowded community peacefully but attempts to do so were hijacked by youngsters with their own agendas.

On Monday April 16, three cars were damaged and looting took place at the Pick n Pay Liquor Store at Capricorn Square, and on Monday April 30, a woman was injured when her car was petrol bombed. A sports building in Seawinds was petrol bombed.

Residents were upset that structures at the land they call Xakabantu were removed by the City’s Anti-Land Invasion Unit.

Mr Khumalo said a meeting will be called with the community to speak about a way forward.

“It is not right for residents to hijack a legitimate cause with legitimate issues. Some of the youth took advantage of the situation and that is when violence and looting occurred,” he said.

Ms Khumalo said the forum and the City of Cape Town are currently in a deadlock about the land.

He said the land belongs to the people of Vrygrond.

“Our people were living on the land. There were houses but these people were removed and relocated so there is a legitimate reason for the community to be angry and upset. We’re asking that the land be given back to the people,” said Mr Khumalo.

Resident Leletho Maxolo said the people of Vrygrond are living in poverty.

“I have two children that I get a grant for and don’t earn much because I work short time. I pay R600 for rent in a backyard and that doesn’t leave much for anything else. We need housing and there is open land.

“We are asking so that we are able to give our children a better future. I cannot, however, agree with the violence that occurred but I can say that the people of Vrygrond are frustrated with the way we have to live,” said Ms Maxolo.

The City of Cape Town’s Mayco member for area south, Eddie Andrews, said the land mentioned is City-owned and is part of the False Bay Nature Reserve.

He added that only partially built unoccupied structures and about 400 pegs were removed.

“The City will continue to act to protect public land, and encourages private landowners to do the same to prevent illegal land invasions. We will continue to take a zero-tolerance approach to attempted land grabs,” said Mr Andrews.

He said when land is invaded it jeopardises emergency and basic service delivery.

Mr Andrews said the City wants to work with residents to address the issues faced by the people of Vrygrond.

“Currently the leadership forum is assisting Expanded Public Works Programme workers that the City has employed from the area to conduct a survey of the number of structures in Vrygrond,” said Mr Andrews.

He said a housing development is being planned.

“The City will communicate the details thereof once this process has been finalised”.