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ANC councillor appeals sacking after poo protests

Glynnis Underhill

Marchers gathered outside court to support councillor Loyiso Nkohla as he lodged an appeal against the decision to fire him after sanitation protests.

Protesters accused of throwing faeces appear in court in August 2013. (David Harrison, M&G)

Phumeza Boyce (22) is a huge fan of expelled City of Cape Town ANC councillor Loyiso Nkohla, who was sacked from his job after being arrested for being part of a protesting group of poo-throwers in Cape Town.

"I am here to support him because he is fighting for us," Boyce told the Mail & Guardian after she peeled off from a vast, heaving crowd marching up Long Street. "He is fighting for us to have proper toilets in Khayelitsha. He was arrested when he was fighting on our behalf. We must support him."

Boyce was one of the many supporters of Nkohla who congregated outside the Western Cape High Court, where he was making a court appearance to appeal the decision by the City of Cape Town to sack him.

The crowd later marched up bustling Long Street, causing some concern to shop and bar owners who were not expecting a march in the upper parts of the city.

In sweltering hot weather, the crowds marched with hand-drawn posters, some calling for portaloos to be removed from Khayelitsha.

Protest action
Nkohla came under fire from his employers after he was arrested and identified as being involved in a series of faeces dumping protests in Cape Town.

As the poo protests got under way last year, protesters dumped human faeces on the steps of the provincial legislature, at Cape Town International Airport and in other areas in protest at the poor sanitation in informal settlements and townships. 

The city and provincial government have been pro-active in trying to identify those involved in hazardous poo-throwing protests.

Last year a group of people threw human waste at a bus transporting Western Cape premier Helen Zille and others to a green economy event in Khayelitsha. Two men were arrested for public violence after the attack.

Named and shamed
In August 2013, Zille held a press conference and released the names of those involved in the so-called poo protests, as well as showing video footage of poo-throwing attacks.

Informal settlement leaders claimed their protests were not driven by the ANC, and were not an attempt to make the city ungovernable before the elections.

While such protests appear to have died down following many arrests by police, the activists were today praised for their bravery by some of the marchers, who had congregated to support Nkohla. 

"Nkohla was protesting on our behalf, he was supporting us and protesting poor sanitation in Cape Town's informal settlements," said Zandile Mdliva (21). "Now he has lost his job and we are here to support him."

Police presence
Police parked vehicles half-way down Long Street to prevent marchers from going further and the crowds marched back into the centre of the city.

Protesters told the M&G that should Nkohla’s sacking not be overturned, they would return to protest in Cape Town in greater numbers. 

The ANC suspended Nkohla and six other members in September last year for their role in the sanitation protests in Cape Town.

While Nkohla has court battles ahead of him, he is likely to receive ongoing support.

For Mdliva, Nkohla is an activist who has earned his respect for standing up for the rights of others.

"To be honest, he is our role model. He is fighting for changes in our country, and trying to change the sanitation system," said Mdilva. "Some people are still using buckets, and others are using portaloos. Now he has lost his job, all because he was trying to help us."


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