Protesters threaten to disrupt poll

By ARETHA LINDEN

Residents from Breidbach in King William’s Town have threatened to disrupt the upcoming municipal elections by blocking access to voting stations should the government not deliver on promises.

The elections are scheduled for August 3 and the residents say if there is no action by the end of July there will be no election in their area.

DESPERATE MEASURES: Breidbach residents held a service delivery march into Bhisho yesterday to hand over a list of demands at the provincial legislature Picture: SIBONGILE NGALWA
DESPERATE MEASURES: Breidbach residents held a service delivery march into Bhisho yesterday to hand over a list of demands at the provincial legislature Picture: SIBONGILE NGALWA

The residents, mostly members of the Breidbach Home Seekers Committee (BHSC), yesterday marched to the Bhisho legislature and handed over their list of demands, saying they had been given empty promises for several decades and were now demanding action.

The march comes two and a half months after the community clashed with police in a service delivery protest on the N2 between King William’s Town and East London. The violent protest left many injured.

BHSC chairman Denzil Smith said they were giving those in power until July 30 to respond positively to their demands “or else there will be no voting in Breidbach, Acorn Valley and Happy Valley”.

“If they don’t deliver by July 30 we plan on waking up as early as 2am on voting day and closing all routes passing Breidbach, Acorn Valley and Happy Valley to ensure no voting station is utilised,” said Smith.

The residents’ demands include houses, tarred roads, cleaned-up dumpsites, cleared bushland, written off utility bills that are irregular, job creation and a police station.

Smith said this “drastic decision” of threatening to disrupt the election was a result of the empty promises.

After the violent protest in mid-April, a technical task team was formed to look into and respond to their service delivery concerns.

“The task team consisted of representatives from Buffalo City Metro’s (BCM’s) housing department, the department of human settlements and the premier’s office.

“We had two meetings with them but we never received a detailed report on the resolutions taken after these meetings. Instead we have been fed lies,” said Smith.

Smith said some of the projects they wanted to see the government set in motion by no later than July 30 were construction of the KWT Housing Scheme, a new housing development and housing for disaster victims.

Receiving the memorandum of demands from the residents on behalf of premier Phumulo Masualle, director of service delivery and monitoring Joe Sotshana promised that the premier’s office was committed to solving the challenges faced by the residents of Breidbach.

“We have been engaging with BCM and we have been closely following the progress reports by the task team through the engagement between the premier and BCM mayor Alfred Mtsi.

“The premier’s office will continue and continuously attempt to resolve all the challenges the residents have with the municipality,” said Sotshana. — arethal@dispatch.co.za

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