Strangely Enough I Find Myself Sympathising With Walmer Township Protesters

Walmer Township residents blocked roads with burning tyres this morning in protest against slow and non existent service delivery.

The normal hard working ratepayer reaction to this violent action is to condemn and secretly hope that the SAPS will wade in and beat the protesting bastard silly. After all it ‘just won’t do to be late for my hair appointment/massage, manicure mow would it’?

I popped on down to the entrance to Walmer Township (Corner Heugh Road and Fountain Avenue) during lunch time and had a chat to some of the protesters and Ward 4 Councillor, Nomajama Benya.

The tyres and various other combustible materials were still burning on the road as the protesters ate African Salad and tried to bum five bucks for kutya from me. The basic message from the protesters is that they are tired of being promised services and watching each deadline be ignored.

I really do not envy the Ward 4 Councillor as, when I asked her if she was the councillor she jokingly said; “For now”. Kudos to Nomajama for sitting with the protesters and not hiding away, at least, to me, that proves that she has been trying to make a better life for all her constituents in Walmer. We are all aware that Walmer Township is an area that is central and historically never received the best attention with regards to services – from the previous and the present dispensation.

The problem that Walmer has is a simple one to define but a complex one to solve: A daily burgeoning population is creating increasing strain on an ageing infrastructure that needs serious upgrading.

Basic current information with regards to population is outdated and will be a nightmare to keep current as a result of the state of flux. Shacks are being built by the desperate who in turn ‘rent out’ portions of their property to backyarders. Backyarders also rent from formal householders creating further strain. Employment available to these residents consists mainly of menial jobs that are of short duration – gardening, painting, construction, cleaning, waitering etc. The available schools are vandalised and in a poor state, roads are sometimes impassable and the residents are restless.

The solution is fraught with complications and will further inflame the passions of residents – the influx of people to the area needs to stop immediately, backyarders need to be evicted, dangerous structures removed, residents taught the need to adhere to a budget and to have pride in their area. It will take a brave person to do all these things – especially with elections looming.

Even more telling is that most people I spoke to have no present prospect of qualifying to move into the walmer Links project for first time home owners as it requires a household income of a minimum of R2 500.00 per month to qualify. Look at that number again – for most of the Walmer protesters R2 500 per month represents riches untold!

In the meantime the Walmer Township residents have created their own public relations nightmare – who will employ someone from Walmer, tainted as they are with the tag of being militants?

Walmer Link Development - Even R2 500.00 per month is a stretch for some
Walmer Link Development – Even R2 500.00 per month is a stretch for some
Burning branches and tyres blockade the Corner of Victoria and Heugh Roads
Burning branches and tyres blockade the Corner of Victoria and Heugh Roads
Walmer Protestors outside the Fountain Avenue entrance to Walmer Township
Walmer Protestors outside the Fountain Avenue entrance to Walmer Township