Toilet protests subside, says Cape Town mayor

Khayelitsha’s toilet protests have “subsided”, Cape Town mayor Dan Plato said on Thursday, as police said unrest continued in the township.

“City officials are in the area engaging with community workers and the protesting has subsided in the area,” he said shortly after noon.

“The city does not anticipate further protests.”

He stood by his statement earlier this week that toilets removed on Monday would be re-installed only when enclosures for the toilets had been re-erected.

The council removed the toilets in the Makhaza area after African National Congress Youth League members destroyed the wood and iron enclosures erected by the council.

On Wednesday night police fired rubber bullets at about 1 000 people who had placed cement pipes and other obstacles on Lansdowne Road.

The protesters also tried to get on to the N2 but police stopped them.

Khayelitsha police spokesperson Captain Anneke van der Vyver said on Thursday afternoon there had been sporadic incidents through the day, “here, there and everywhere”.

Residents had again burned tyres and placed cement blocks on streets.

Police had however “contained” all the incidents, and though they at one stage used rubber bullets, no one was injured and there had been no more arrests.

Eight people were due in court on Thursday for alleged public violence. Another 18 appeared in court on Wednesday on charges of being part of an illegal gathering.

They were released on warning and were expected to return to court on July 16.

The SA Human Rights Commission said on Thursday it was completing its findings on the controversy following a complaint by the ANC Youth League.

“We are almost finished,” said spokesperson Vincent Moaga, adding they did not want to rush into a “quick-fix” solution.

In 2007 the Democratic Alliance-led council began building a toilet for each household in the area, on condition residents enclosed the toilets themselves so the council would have money for more toilets.

Residents enclosed 1 265 of the toilets, but 51 were left open with no privacy.

The council eventually erected corrugated iron walls around these toilets last Monday.

However, the ANCYL in the area demanded concrete walls and last week destroyed some of the iron enclosures and threatened to make the city of Cape Town ungovernable.

The city council responded by removing 65 unenclosed toilets. Social Justice Coalition coordinator Gavin Silber said that during a visit to the area on Thursday morning they found that people were using the communal toilets but this was inadequate.

“It was wrong to remove toilets without providing an alternative. There are some communal toilets, but they also removed standpipes for the taps.” – Sapa

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