Dispute over building jobs behind fiery N2 protest

A BATTLE over jobs at a housing project is behind the protest which yesterday closed off a section of the N2 to peak-hour morning traffic.

Protesters, who are residents of Boystown, in Old Crossroads accuse the local ANC ward councillor Elese Depoutch of giving jobs to pals at the construction site.

Mlungisi Noludwe, a member of the project steering committee, says Depoutch stopped construction at the site where 1 367 houses would be built because he was unhappy with the people employed there.

“He wants to put in place ANC members who are recruited during the night, at ANC branch meetings. Depoutch has ignored the project steering committee, the Housing Development Authority and the provincial Department of Human Settlements,” said Noludwe.

The Boystown housing project, part of the larger N2 Gateway project, has been delayed for years owing to in-fighting among the local community over who should benefit from the project.

Shiyekile Kita, who sat on a crate while watching his neighbours holding up placards, said he had been living in the area for more than 20 years and was looking forward to finally moving into his own home.

“We want this project to go ahead so that homes can be built, but he (Depoutch) wants to stop it, all because he wants to employ his family members,” Kita claimed.

On Tuesday the contractors at the site, who are still in the process of putting up bulk earth works, were apparently told by Depoutch to remove their equipment, allegedly because they had failed to employ his preferred members of the local community.

But Depoutch denies this saying the contractor abandoned the site after protests on Tuesday, sensing the situation could become volatile.

“I’m not the one appointing people, that’s the job of the project steering committee,” said Depoutch.

His dispute with the steering committee, he said, was over the legitimacy of its claim that it represented the community.

A bone of contention was the insistence by Depoutch that all future beneficiaries, not just those originating from the Boystown informal settlement, had to benefit from the jobs at the housing project.

“Our ward consists of 16 areas and people from those areas need to be involved. Those people also include backyarders,” said Depoutch.

Sapa reports 15 people were arrested yesterday after barricading the N2 highway at Nyanga with burning tyres.

“I can confirm the arrest of 15 people for public violence,” Warrant Officer November Filander said.

About 60 people gathered in protest, apparently over poor service delivery and housing around 5.30am yesterday.

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