Chaos broke out as angry protesters stormed the construction site of the R60 million building project of the new Nkululeko Secondary School in KwaNobuhle, Uitenhage, on Tuesday afternoon.
The protesters alleged that only ANC members were employed as construction workers on the site and demanded tools be downed with immediate effect. They also demanded the repairs of 245 RDP houses in their area.
The chanting protesters broke the padlock, pushed open the gate and entered the site.
“Get out now or else,” they shouted and whistled as wide-eyed construction workers fidgeted nearby the trucks.
They burnt tyres, cardboard and plastic on the site and vowed that all hell would break loose.
Soon the head of police in KwaNobuhle, Lieutenant-Colonel Patrick Goeda, arrived with his team. Goeda lunged towards one of the protest leaders, Luvuyo Ntombana, saying, “It’s you again. How did you get in here?”
“I am here to fight for my rights, officer,” said Ntombana.
“But you are fighting for it in the wrong way, Comrade,” said Goeda.
He gave the protestors 10 minutes to leave the site.
“If you want us out of this site, then all of the workers must get out first,” shouted another protester. “They must stop dragging their feet and get out, out, out.”
The protestors told Goeda they would only leave once the area’s ward councillor, Siphiwo Plaatjies (ANC), came and spoke to them.
Goeda contacted Plaatjies, asking him to come speak to the protesters. The protesters booed as Plaatjies later arrived at the site.
“Councillor, these people want to talk to you,” said Goeda. “I propose you do it. I don’t want to be part of the discussions.”
Plaatjies spoke to the protesters and they agreed to meet this Friday to clarify the screening process used for employment of the construction workers. The meeting will be attended by the residents, Plaatjies, ward committee members and the principals of all three shut-down schools, Noninzi Luzipho and Mjuleni primaries and Nkululeko Secondary.
Money to repair RDP houses
Plaatjies told GroundUp there was R9.2 million available to repair RDP houses in Duduza.
“It was approved in 2014 but we are waiting for the money to be topped up by the provincial department of human settlements,” said Plaatjies.
Provincial human settlements spokesperson Phiwokuhle Soga confirmed her department funded the RDP home repair project, but implementation was the municipality’s job.