Youth use riots as excuse to vandalise

Tremaine van Aardt

THE youth of Mandelaville in Uitenhage are taking the riot protests overboard, older residents said.

The township has been rocked by protests since November, with residents taking to the streets again last week, burning debris and blocking roads over land they want allocated to them in the Kamesh Road area.

A 10-year-old girl was killed in similar protests last year.

But Mandelaville resident Florence Mapuma, 56, said yesterday the youth were using the riots “as an excuse to vandalise the town”.

“I understand when the community gathers to fight for what is theirs. But at the weekend and this morning [yesterday] we saw more debris burning in random places around Mandelaville. These fires are being started by a small group of youths who are just being unruly,” she said.

“It is unnecessary and senseless to burn the area you are staying in … and for what?”

Sinethemba Witbooi, 48, agreed.

“These children should be in school or trying to find work and not keep themselves busy with fires and who knows what else. If any of them bothered to pick up a newspaper they would see we are meeting on the fourth [February 4],” Witbooi said.

“It seems these boys are doing this out of boredom more than trying to strengthen the fight for housing.”

But Vuyani Holejane, 21, disagreed.

“We need to keep the fires burning, so that everybody involved can see that nothing has been done about our situation, and that these delays and excuses are simply fuelling the fires,” he said.

“Until we see or speak to someone of influence this will continue. We haven’t even heard a word about what is happening next.”

On Sunday, human settlements portfolio committee head Buyisile Mkavu said: “We have been meeting with the community and informing them on what can and will be done because we have to service the land before building houses. You cannot build a house in one day.

“On February 4 we will have another meeting to show how far we have come since our last meeting, so we are keeping them informed.”

Warrant Officer Gerda Swart of the SAPS said no new cases linked to the protest had been reported.