Shack dwellers unleash terror in Port Elizabeth

Mkhuseli Sizani

Two passenger buses belonging to the Algoa Bus Company, a Toyota quantum, a car and a bakkie all burned to ashes when shack dwellers in Port Elizabeth took to the streets this week.

Sipho Ntsondwa, the leader of the Nelson Mandela Bay Informal Settlements Forum and the Westville informal settlement, led the violent protest on Monday morning.

In December, Ntsondwa, who is known for leading aggressive protests, surprised his followers when he told them to stop toyi-toying and to educate each other about the dangers of Covid-19.

But his change of heart resulted in a rampage down Old Uitenhage and Missionvale roads in Westville Port Elizabeth.

Last month MMC for Electricity and Energy Luxolo Namatte switched on electricity for 1,000 shacks in the area but did not finish the remaining 250 by this month as promised.

Ntsondwa told Scrolla.Africa they held a peaceful protest and observed all the Covid regulations.

“Because Covid is still a killer,” he said.

But police provoked the residents.

“We were about 400 people. We were carrying placards. But the police arrived and shot at us without speaking to us or asking for community leaders,” he said. 

“Then the protest turned violent because we were provoked. Four of us were injured. The residents will protest until the municipality comes and addresses them.”

Captain Andre Beetge said: “According to the two bus drivers, they were alone in their buses and on their way to collect passengers when an unknown number of persons blocked the vehicles in the street and told the drivers to get out. The buses were set on fire and the drivers allowed to leave. The attackers also fled the scene leaving police to find the burning buses.”

Municipal spokesperson Mthubanzi Mniki said: “The remaining 250 (shacks) have not been completed due to unavailability of Ready Boards and a Service Distribution Box from Supply Chain stores.”