Cape Town – South African Human Settlements Minister, Nomaindiya Mfeketo, addressed community members at Zwelihle Stadium in Hermanus on Wednesday as protests subsided and the town returned to normal.
A number of issues were identified, ranging from lack of land availability for housing in the area to making sure that the agreed plan of action has the financial backing to make it succeed.
This followed recent violent protests over land and service delivery, which included the burning of a satellite police station.
“If relations between the three spheres of government were what it’s supposed to be, ways could have been found to reallocate these funds to areas where they are needed most,” Mfeketo said, who was explaining how the state would effectively respond to the service delivery needs of South Africans.
The violent protests mostly targeted foreign nationals, with about 120 Somali-owned small businesses having been torched in Zwelihle. Many of the residents sought refuge at the Ismail and Miriam Ibrahim Islamic Centre and at a community hall.
The protests began last Thursday after a group of backyarders pegged out plots for themselves on vacant municipal land near Zwelihle, on the outskirts of Hermanus. They refused to continue renting in cramped conditions.
So far, over 70 people have been arrested in conjunction with the protests, which were watched closely by many who were waiting for the outcome of a parliamentary process to decide on the amendment of the Constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.
The EFF, who filed the motion, has been blamed on social media for encouraging “land invasions” such as the ones in Hermanus. EFF Gauteng chairperson, Mandisa Mashego, has previously confirmed that a group of citizens illegally occupying land across Gauteng last month were representatives of the red berets.
On Tuesday, Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela said that local government has identified land for the residents of Zwelihle.
Mfeketo said she was in support of Madikizela’s intervention in Hermanus. She also expressed her department’s commitment to doing everything possible to make sure the agreed plan of action between the province, Overstrand Municipality and the community was implemented successfully.
Meanwhile, a massive operation to clean the streets of Zwelihle was underway after the brokered agreement between government and residents.