On 30 May 2017 Social Justice Coalition (SJC) activists were physically and rather forcefully removed from council during the City of Cape Town’s (CoCT) special budget meeting while silently and peacefully protesting in the public gallery. SJC activists that were part of this protest felt violated when they were manhandled by the CoCT’s VIP protection and Law Enforcement services while exercising a constitutionally guaranteed right to protest peacefully.
This occurred while other SJC activists stood silently outside the Cape Town Civic Centre in an attempt to demand the CoCT adhere to its own guidelines on effective public lighting. All of our attempts to engage with the CoCT and Mayoral Committee member Xanthea Limberg have been met with a distinct lack of engagement. Instead, Councillor Limberg has provided a vague and self-defeating argument that does not adequately address any of the issues we have raised.
The City’s own Design and Management Guidelines for a Safer City state that high-mast lights should be avoided because they cast dark shadows and are inferior to “conventional street lighting”. High-mast lighting is the norm in Khayelitsha and Nyanga, densely populated areas where residents have testified to feeling unsafe because of inadequate public lighting.
We welcome Mayor Patricia de Lille’s announcement today that R40 million will be allocated, over a few years, to upgrade street lighting in Khayelitsha. The SJC hopes to engage further with the CoCT on this matter, as inadequate public lighting does not simply affect residents of Khayelitsha, and we would ideally like to see a more substantial financial commitment for other townships such as Nyanga in the future.
The analysis by the International Budget Partnership on how much money has been allocated in the current budget by the CoCT for informal settlement upgrading proves further why this is an unequal budget that does not prioritise townships and informal settlements.
The budget is an important document that sets out the City’s priorities for the next three financial years. The CoCT’s budget is anti-poor, exclusionary and does not accommodate poor, working-class, black African and coloured citizens. It is a budget that has consistently left township and informal settlement citizens in the dark.
This is why it was necessary for us to protest in council chambers and outside the Civic Centre, and we will continue to fight this until our demands for basic services, the right to dignity, life and security of the everyone are met.
Dalli Weyers - 082 460 2093
Axolile Notywala - 074 386 1584