Desperation fuelled week of violence

Rocks and stones litter 7de Laan in the aftermath of the protest Picture: Judy de Vega.

A community desperate for services, development and answers.

This is what sparked a week-long bout of protests in Port Elizabeth’s northern areas, Helenvale community leader Samuel Davids says.

Davids, also an ANC branch leader in the area, was at pains to explain yesterday that the chaotic scenes playing out in Helenvale – which have since spread to other areas in the northern areas – were as a result of genuine service-delivery gripes.

One of the biggest issues centres on a housing project for backyard dwellers in Helenvale, which Davids said was meant to be built by the Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA) with the help of German funding from the KFW Development Bank.

Helenvale residents are demanding to know when the project will be implemented, fearing that the funding will be taken away by the Germans if it is not spent soon.

MBDA spokesman Luvuyo Bangazi said yesterday they were not aware of any funding withdrawal and that the agency planned to run a pilot project of building 50 housing units in Helenvale, but it needed the metro’s approval.

“Through the MBDA and SPUU [Safety and Peace through Urban Upgrading], we had planned to conduct a pilot project which would include the building of 50 housing units in the Helenvale areas as well as working with existing structures to look at ways of improving these structures,” Bangazi said.

While it was announced last year that 3 678 houses would be built in Helenvale at a cost of R582-million, he said this was an Eastern Cape Department of Human Settlements project.

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