Protest standoff in Joe Slovo
Disgruntled Ward 41 residents in Joe Slovo say they have given the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality seven days to respond to their demands after marching to councillor Simphiwe Tyukana’s office on Thursday.
The residents demanded, among other things, the removal of Tyukana and the ward committees with immediate effect, immediate reinstatement of electricity projects, completion of housing projects and construction of schools, health centres and a police station.
A 52-year-old woman living with her grandchild said the child was born with HIV and had to travel to Despatch for treatment.
“Several times I complained to the councillor’s office that we need a clinic, but because I was not part of the people who mobilised and voted for him I cannot be assisted,” she said.
The woman said on many occasions she had been attacked on her way to fetch medication for her grandchild and sometimes came home without it.
“The councillor is our voice, he should be stressing our needs to the municipality.”
Community leader Sydwell Somtsewu said Tyukana had made so many promises but had yet to engage with community members in the form of public meetings.
He said that they had voted for a man who did not respect the voice of the people.
“Ward 41 [has] great challenges and it needs a capable leader who has a capacity to confront these challenges and be able to be a unifier,” he said.
However, another group of residents who were stationed inside Tyukana’s office in support of the councillor said they would not allow people to get rid of a man who was serving the community.
ANC Ward 41 branch secretary Thobekile Lawu said the group dismissed the petition and claimed it was motivated by disgruntled residents who were unhappy over the outcome of the 2016 local government elections.
“We are not going to allow and accept hooligans to undermine the leadership of this ward,” Lawu said.
“The very same people are against the ward councillor – we know them and their corruption,” he said.
Tyukana said he appreciated the actions of the residents but urged them to follow protocol.
“I am a councillor. I was appointed by the ANC so it won’t be easy for me to just step down,” he said.
“Service delivery in this ward is going accordingly and it’s surprising because some of the disgruntled residents used to work for the office of the councillor and only now they are pointing out wrongs.”
A memorandum of demands was handed over to municipal officials.
An official from the office of the speaker, Thembekile Mngwanza, welcomed the memorandum and promised to deliver it to all the departments.