Yesterday, the total refusal of Mayor Patricia de Lille to engage with the SJC led to an exceptional show of force – with more than thirty SAPS and City law enforcement officials being sent to deal with an unarmed and peaceful group of activists. The complete intransigence by the City’s Metro Police led to their insistence that SAPS arrest the activists, who were charged and detained for over ten hours.
In a statement by the Mayor yesterday, she claims that the SJC’s protest was a “publicity stunt” and that the Mayor has offered the SJC dates for a meeting in October 2013. The Mayor referred to this as an “offer for a constructive engagement” emerging from “a spirit of cooperation”.
These are outright fabrications. The Mayor only proposed these dates after the SJC’s lawyers, the Legal Resources Centre, had sent two letters and it was clear that the SJC would be taking legal action against the City. These dates would have been nearly two months after the SJC’s lawyers requested the meeting and the SJC tried telephonically to arrange earlier dates, of which the Mayor’s office refused.
The issue at hand however is not the meeting. As our timeline (to be posted at www.sjc.org.za by the end of the week) shows, there have been countless meetings, letters, submissions, reports, and emails between the SJC and the City. The issue is an agreement on the content of a plan for the janitorial service and the process through which it is developed. We were sent a grand vision statement in the form of the City’s ‘operational policy’. This is however wholly inadequate. The ‘operational policy’ was not developed through the process to which the Mayor committed a year ago and there is no implementation plan to effectively implement this service to over 200 informal settlements across Cape Town.
The SJC is willing to accept one of the dates that the Mayor has proposed, only if the Mayor agrees to our demands stipulating the process of the development of the policy and plan. If the Mayor does not accept our demands for the process and follow through on her original commitments, we will continue to protest her authoritarian leadership of the City of Cape Town.
Every delay is a child getting sick from diarrhoea and at risk of dying, a person facing serious illness, and above all a violation of the right to dignity of Black working class people. On the 36th anniversary of the death of Steve Biko, this callous disregard for the lives of Black people is an indictment on her government.
For comment please contact:
074 417 8306
Deputy General Secretary
083 674 0552
Imali Yethu Coordinator
074 386 1584