ISN assists community after bloody service delivery protests in Thembelihle

By Kwanele Sibanda, CORC

Residents of Thembelihle informal settlement, south of Johannesburg started a service delivery protest on Monday the 5th of September 2011. The informal settlement is situated near Lenasia. On Tuesday the residents were addressed by the Johannesburg MEC who told them that the department cannot build houses for them where they are residing because the land has dolomite. Furthermore it is said that the MEC said that according to his knowledge the original residents of Thembelihle were relocated to Lehayi and the current residents invaded the land after relocation.

Public meeting in preparation for the march to the magistrate's court
ISN and residents discuss strategy for their march to the magistrate’s court

On Tuesday ISN members decided to arrange and send seven members on Wednesday to go and assess the situation on the ground and also find out from the community how best they can support them. When ISN visited the settlement on Wednesday morning the atmosphere was calm, but accessing the community with a vehicle was still difficult since the roads were still barricaded by burnt tyres and rocks from the Monday demonstration.

ISN’s approach was that of first meeting with the leadership of the settlement. The ISN team arrived shortly before a public meeting started. In the meeting, the residents expressed anger mainly over two issues: the use of live ammunition by the police within people’s yards and the arresting of protesting members. As a way forward the community agreed on taking the following actions:

Ø Marching to the magistrate’s court to demand the release of their fellow community members.

Ø Conducting a survey to count the number of the injured and finding out whether they had received medical treatment or not.

The residents of the community demonstrated community cohesion as they made collective plans of action. As the situation was still tense with residents planning a march to the magistrate’s court, the ISN members found the following to be appropriate to do at that particular moment:

Ø Gave the leaders advice of informing the police prior to the commencement of the march to court and also encouraging their members to engage in a peaceful march.

Ø  Got contact details of the leaders so that arrangements can be done for the mobilisation of the community.

The police however stopped the march to the magistrate’s court and communicated with the leaders that only five representatives could go there and find out what the outcome is.

The documenting team from Utshani Buyakhuluma was also present and they documented a story on the shooting of Lloyd Baloi with live ammunition within his yard at 11pm on Tuesday.

Today at 3pm the ISN team is meeting with the Thembelihle leadership to explain to them the ISN process and also hear their take on it.

Blood

The blood-stained clothes of the resident who was shot during the protests