Rubber bullets versus stones at Blikkiesdorp protest

Protesters and City in dispute over housing project

By Vincent Lali

24 May 2024

Police entered Blikkiesdorp and fired teargas and rubber bullets. Photos: Vincent Lali

After protesters blocked the corner of Symphony Way and Hindle Road with burning tyres in Delft, Cape Town, on Friday morning, police entered Blikkiesdorp and fired teargas and rubber bullets. The protesters retaliated by throwing stones.

Keano Peters, 15, was hit by rubber bullets on his back and arm. ‘’The police entered my yard, shot me with a rubber bullet and said voetsek,” he said. “I didn’t even join the protest. The rubber bullet wound is sore.’’

Patricia Manuel, Blikkiesdorp Joint Committee member, said, ‘’We were protesting peacefully … We even put zinc [sheets] under the burning tyres so that they don’t damage the road.”

Manuel said the protest was a demand for the City to place the Symphony Way Housing Project under the control of the beneficiaries. In March Blikkiesdorp residents also protested.

“We don’t know what happens at the project site and how the construction mafia got involved with the project because the City doesn’t tell us anything,’’ she said.

“We have qualified plumbers, electricians and builders who can get the project back on track,’’ she said. “We have members of the neighbourhood watch who can work with the police to safeguard the project.’’

Manuel said Blikkiesdorp experienced frequent water outages and sewage blockages.

Joan Cupido, the joint committee’s chairperson, said people have been waiting for houses since they were relocated to Blikkiesdorp in 2007. She said City officials verified people’s names for houses in the project in 2016.

In an unattributed statement to GroundUp, the City’s media office said: “It is important to note that the Symphony Way project was stopped following the murder of a City official in 2023 and the continued violence and extortion that have impacted the project, leading to the withdrawal of the contractor and the cancellation of the contract.’’

‘’The Project Engagement Committee, and specifically the beneficiary representatives of the qualifying beneficiaries, will be kept abreast and included in all discussions.’’

“The supply chain management process to appoint a new contractor is at the final stages and we look forward to the appointment award by the end of the first quarter as long as there is not unforeseen interruptions.’’