The tourist town of Knysna experienced a shocking amount of protest action from different groups the past week. This affected the Western Cape as the N2, the only tarred road through Knysna, was repeatedly closed.
The action can be divided into three groupings:
- The first was against the release of assassination suspect, Velile Waxa, the DA’s ex-coalition partner. This involved several communities but predominantly Concordia and White Location.
- Nekkies and Oupad, which straddle the N2, protested against failed service delivery. This has been ongoing for years.
- The third, which is what I address here, was by the coloured community of Hornlee against prepaid water meters. They are angry with the Democratic Alliance and want their Constitutional right to free water enforced by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). They were blamed for an N2 closure but they may have been a scapegoat for the community of Oupad which is next door.
Note that in between genuine protest, there were opportunistic criminals.
PREPAID WATER METERS
Lies, disinformation, coercion& discrimination
The Hornlee community has in the last week shown that they can stand together and dispelled the notion that Coloureds can’t stand together. They have come out in their numbers to tell the Knysna municipality that they don’t want prepaid water meters. That has let to various actions which included among others the closing of the N2, public meetings, petitions and delegations to the municipality and the MEC of Housing, Bonginkosi Madikizela Mandela.
In the meeting on Thursday with the Mayor, councillors and leadership of the municipality it was agreed that there would be a cessation of hostilities and that no prepaid water meters would be installed.
That was also contained in a petition that was given to Mayor Mark Willemse and Bonginkosi Madikizela on Monday morning.
It was further reinforced by a public meeting on Monday evening where the Deputy Mayor, councillor Van Aswegen was told in no uncertain terms that the community don’t want prepaid water meters. Councillor Puffadder also attended the meeting, but couldn’t stand the scrutiny, and fled the meeting.
The community also said they want their land back that was taken under Apartheid, it doesn’t matter whether it is at Thesen Island, Old Place, Eastford, Salt River, Knoetzee, etc.
In spite of the above, the municipality, under the leadership of the Deputy Mayor Elrick van Aswegen and councillor Donovan Puffadder, went ahead to install water meters.
They clearly no understanding of the rules of engagement or just have a blatant disregard for the people who elected them. But what make things worst are the things they tell and don’t the community to get them to accept the water meters.
This is what they tell them:
- If you have debt with the municipality it would be written off, but only on condition that you take the water meter.
- If you don’t take the water meter you would be handed over to attorneys and you could lose your house.
- This is the best system and would be implemented in all areas in Knysna.
- The people in other areas like Cape town loves the system.
- The leaders of Hornlee Unite want to take the work away from the few people who are employed to install the water meters.
This is what they don’t tell them:
- It is exactly the same as prepaid electricity, which means that if you don’t have money you won’t have water.
- Water is a basic human right and what they are doing is illegal.
- The meter box cost R4500-00 and the poor consumer will pay for it.
- There will be an availability charge/ daily charge which will be levied every time people buy the water (the same as with the electricity).
- This system won’t be implemented in all areas, but only in the black (Coloured & African) communities.
- It’s an illegal decision of council to discriminate on the implementation of these water meters.
- Sedgefield, Rheenendal, White Location have rejected the water meters and it’s now only forced in Hornlee.
- People can’t lose their houses over water debt, because it’s illegal to do that.
- The CFO in the Meeting with the councillors and management told the delegation that there is no council policy to effect writing off of debt if people take water meters.
- Communities are rejecting this system in other areas and are forcefully removing those water meters.
- The community want people to work and has asked these water meters first be put in in the white areas. If it works the council would have a good case to implement it all over.
- Sedgefield and Rheenendal areas have received land for housing after their resisting of the water meters.
It’s very clear that there are lots of funny and illegal stuff going on this matter. The community is now asking why is this matter forced so much? What don’t we know or what is hidden? Is this a Knysna BOSASA?
We have decided that we will report this to the SA Human Rights Commission and will get the Public Protector to investigate this matter.
Life or death, victory is certain.
Issued by the leadership of Hornlee United on 02 April 2019.