On Saturday morning I almost lost my voice as I screamed back to the ward councillor (DA Roberto Quintas, I think) for Hout Bay being interviewed by Africa Melane on Cape Talk. My screaming was a bad idea because I was on my way to the recording studio to do voice overs.
He was talking about the protest by the residents of Imizamo Yethu, living on a sports field while waiting for the blocking system of their informal settlement to be completed. They are living on a field with no electricity, in the middle of winter, way after the due date of their moving back to a place where they are going to have to erect their own shacks with ‘shack kits’ provided by local government. They are not allowed to light fires to keep warm or make food. They have no idea how much longer they are going to have to stay there.
And this ward councillor was using words like ‘mitigate’ and ‘implement’ and ‘overcoming the obstacles of delivery backlog’ while human beings are living on a SPORTS FIELD, without ELECTRICITY in the middle of WINTER. I could hear the frustration in Africa’s voice, as he tried in vain to point out that these were desperate people in absolutely untenable circumstances, and I was thinking about the people of Knysna who were offered free Spur food and even free hotel shelter when their houses burned down. I was thinking about them, and how they were promised money by ABSA, and the absolute difference. The hideous difference.
Imizamo Yethu was literally a squatter camp, set up in the bushes of the mountain, for black workers to sleep in because transport to their work in the white suburb of Hout Bay was so lacking. That is how it started. So, residents of Hout Bay. Is it not time for you to start taking responsibility for Imizamo Yethu? Is it not almost too late, while you drive past this sports field, to your electric fence surrounded home that is cleaned by one, or two, of the residents of this township that BURNED DOWN?
Please, councillor, take responsibility, make a commitment, and work for all the people in your ward, not only those who are inconvenienced by the road blockade, and who can’t drive the most direct route to their homes, and light fires in their fireplaces as the soup bubbles on their stoves.