Parkwood residents who erected illegal structures on private land have acted out of “frustration” due to housing bureaucracy. So says, Grassy Park Community Policing Forum (CPF) chairperson, Rev Phillip Bam, following violent clashes in Parkwood late yesterday afternoon as residents confronted law enforcement officers who were instructed to demolish illegally built structures.
Approximately 85 structures were demolished, as a result, residents proceeded to vent their frustration by burning tyres and throwing rocks and empty stun grenade casings at police officials.
Bam explained that the structures were erected by individuals who have applied for housing and the right to erect structures on the Falcon Road field.
“Some of the people who lived there [on the field] have received houses,” Bam told VOC Breakfast Beat.
The individuals who protested against the demolition of the structures were unsatisfied with the City’s response to their request and subsequently erected illegal structures.
“Land invasion is illegal, and putting up structures without the permission of the City will of course cause a problem. The city [therefore] felt compelled to remove it,” Bam explained.
Councillor Benedicta van Minnen has issued a statement in response to the altercation between the police and the Parkwood residents in which she states that a fair and systematic housing process needs to be instituted, further stating that the City recognizes the need for housing.
“[The housing issue] is part of a bigger problem, and not confined to that particular area. The city is not able to provide sufficient housing,” Bam argued.
He added that the City’s lengthy processors add to the delay in housing delivery.
“The City has taken eight years to get Pelican Park’s new horizon area, set up,” he further notes.
The housing issue is exacerbated when children of individuals, who are currently awaiting housing permits, require homes as well. Bam urges the government to develop new ideas that will assist in alleviating the current housing shortage.
“Housing is a big problem, but the lawlessness which followed [as a result of protests] is totally unacceptable, and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms”
Bam is currently involved in the #GangsterismShallFall movement that was initiated by the Grassy Park CPF.
The CPF, last night, hosted a meeting with community members in an attempt to devise a plan aimed at creating awareness amongst the youth about the dangers of gangsterism and drugs.
“We are trying to change the mindset of the children that gangsterism is not good and that the attraction of gangsterism shouldn’t have any bearing on them. We are saying that the mind-power is stronger than gang-power – we can beat gangsterism!” Rev Bam affirmed.
The #GangsterismSHALLFall campaign is calling on community members to attend a second community meeting on February 29 at 19:30, at the League of Friends of the Blind (LOFOB) centre, located at 94 Klip Road.
VOC (Thakira Desai)