Isiqalo: Truce declared

Residents of Isiqalo informal settlement and Mitchell’s Plain have declared a truce after meeting with Bonginkosi Madikizela, leader of the DA in the Western Cape and MEC for Human Settlements, on Saturday May 5, after a bitter stand-off last week, which saw violent service delivery protests, private properties and municipal infrastructure damaged, clashes between the two communities and the death of a young resident.

Frustrations have been growing and tensions simmering on both sides since the origin of the informal settlement, based along Jakes Gerwel, between the R300 and Highlands Drive, in 2011, leading to intermittent service delivery protests in the past seven years.

The Plainsman chronicles the relationship between the two communities:

May 18 2011 – Local government elections are held across the country.

November 2011 – People from different places, including Samora Machel, the Vlei (an area off Oliver Tambo Road, close to Samora Machel), Kapteinsklip and Khayelitsha, and surrounding areas where they lived in backyards and could not afford to pay rent, invade vacant land, owned by Robert Ross, along Jakes Gerwel Drive, between Highlands Drive and the R300.

May 2012 – Residents from Isiqalo informal settlement (which means “the beginning”) write to Mayor Patricia de Lille demanding water and sanitation.

The settlement mushrooms as more shacks are built and more families move in (“Siqalo a ticking time bomb,” Plainsman, June 6 2012). They stage protests, preventing Mitchell’s Plain residents from getting to school, work and return home.

June 2012 – Stand taps and mobile toilets are put on the outskirts of the land.

August 2012 – Mitchell’s Plain residents demand answers about housing from the then mayoral committee member (Mayco) for human settlements, Ernest Sonnenberg and the then Mayco member for utility services, Shehaam Sims, who said the land is privately owned and the matter is before court (“Residents demand answers about housing,” Plainsman August 9 2012).

December 2012 – The Western Cape High Court orders that residents of Isiqalo informal settlement, the City and landowners Ross Demolition and Lyton Props talk about alternative accommodation (“Role-players ordered to discuss Siqalo saga,” December 12 2012).

February 2015 – Formal dwelling residents meet at the Mitchell’s Plain Indoor Sports and Recreation Centre in Portland on Sunday February 22, following the initiation of a Facebook page called “Mitchell’s Plain against illegal Siqalo informal settlement”. This came after informal settlement resident protests stopped traffic because they disagreed with Ms De Lille about cleansing service contracts on the privately owned land (“Siqalo tensions rise,” February 25 2015).

April 24 2018 – Isiqalo residents write to Ms De Lille, demanding electricity and that she responds within a week.

May 1 2018 – Isiqalo informal settlement residents take to the streets, burning tyres, an ATM and businesses are looted, and a fruit and vegetable stall is razed to the ground. Jakes Gerwel is closed between the R300 and Highlands Drive.

May 2 2018 (2pm) – Mitchell’s Plain residents meet to send out a statement with the Mitchell’s Plain United Residents’ Association (MURA).

May 2 2018 (6pm) – Residents from formal houses, meet at a garage on the corner of Fulham Road and Highlands Drive, in Rondevlei.

May 2 2018 (7pm) – SA Human Rights commissioner, Chris Nissen and Community Safety MEC, Dan Plato, meet with representatives of both Mitchell’s Plain and Isiqalo to discuss matters. Chaos erupts when a crowd of Mitchell’s Plain residents gathered and some people threw stones at the Isiqalo shacks. Police release stun grenades. On the same night, a 19-year-old Bayview resident dies after being run over by taxi driver during protests by Mitchell’s Plain residents.

May 3 2018 – The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC), ANC, People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (PAGAD), clergy, DA- led representatives from provincial and local government and other civil groups meet and send out statements. At 7pm Mitchell’s Plain residents take to the street again,

May 5 2018 – Bonginkosi Madikizela, leader of the DA in the Western Cape and MEC for Human Settlements, chairs a meeting with residents from both Mitchell’s Plain and Isiqalo.

He proposes that Isiqalo residents will be relocated into houses, as part of the Southern Corridor housing project which will also accommodate residents of nearby Kosovo.

May 8 2018 – Yesterday, Mitchell’s Plain residents met to elect or nominate representatives for a steering committee to represent their community’s needs in the Southern Corridor housing project.