A ministerial inquiry into the evictions at Nomzamo, near Lwandle in the Strand, has turned into an elaborate blame game.Â RA’EESA PATHERÂ reports.
The Cape Town CBD is a long way away from Lwandle, but this is where the public hearings take place.
It wasÂ 10amÂ in the Good Hope Sub-Council building and a few reporters were seated near the back. The chambers were comfortable, with big cushioned chairs, carpeted floors and wooden furnishings. The chambers were surprisingly homey, an ironic contrast to the subject of the Lwandle evictions, where hundreds had been left homeless. The faces of Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille, President Jacob Zuma, and City of Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille smiled down from framed perches on the wall.
It wasÂ the second week of the Lwandle hearings, led by the ministerial inquiry appointed by Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.
A month ago, residents of the Nomzamo settlement near Lwandle were violently evicted from their homes on land owned by the South African National Roads Agency.Â On Tuesday, the ANC ward councillor and civil society organisation Sesâ€
â€œThe last time I experience this was during apartheid years,â€ said MbuyiseloÂ Matha, the ANC ward councilor of the area.
Matha read his submission, recounting the violent brutality he witnessed.
As he spoke a sharp narrative begin to emerge. It was a blame game, where Matha accused the City of failing to deliver its promises, and as a result people took action, illegally occupying private property.
“They said they were tired of unfulfilled promised by the City that land, services and houses will be provided to them since 2007,â€ Matha said.
Watching it all unfold was almost comical. The finger-pointing brought to mindÂ children being confronted by a particularly intimidating school principal. But the reality cut through the theatrics: people had been displaced from their homes, and their suffering was being politicised.
A 30-minute adjournment was called after Mathaâ€
Access to Justice, a legal aid organisation, worked in conjunction with Sesâ€
It was a gory and grim narrative. Patience Ndleva, almost nineÂ months pregnant, was kicked in her hip. Xoliswa Masabala was stripped and assaulted before she was arrested. Bongani Magaqama was brutalised and said he heard police refer to Africans as a â€œkak peopleâ€.
But Jonker came under fire on the inquiry began its questioning.
â€œDo you have affidavits to back this presentation?,” asked inquiry member, Butch Steyn.
There were no affidavits, and Jonker could not determine whether police or law enforcement were responsible for her clientsâ€
Loyiso Nkohla, a Sesâ€
During his questioning, Nkohla repeatedly referred to Helen Zille as â€œthat racist girlâ€.
â€œChairperson, are you really going to allow this?,â€ interjected DA provincial communications director Jamie Turkington.
After a verbal confrontationÂ between him and a Sesâ€
With a â€œthank youâ€ and a rise from his chair, his day in chambers concluded.
It was the end of a long day of nit-picking from members of the inquiryÂ searching for answers. Still, the blame game is being fought.Â Meanwhile, out in Strand, Nomzamoâ€