November 29, 2018

DAG's Statement On The Bo Kaap Protests and The Use Of Violence Against Residents By The Law Enforcement

Author: DAG Admin, DAG


The District Six committee court victory and the violence relating to Bo Kaap protests are endemic of three key things that aren’t working in the urban development sector at the moment.

Firstly, the City of Cape Town is the custodian of all developments in the city. It ultimately grants all rights for development which in turn shape the future development of neighbourhoods through the zoning schemes. Given the current legislative frameworks, Why is the state responding with violence? Why is the City not mediating and taking responsibility for its role in granting development rights? While governance and administration cannot influence interdicts they can foster a dialogue through councilors and administrators. The action and need for engagement cannot be replaced by policing and force. The fact that law enforcement introduced brutal force against residents, cannot be condoned and is unacceptable.

Secondly, this might sound like a broken record but the relationship between the City of Cape Town and civics has been completely fractured. In Bo Kaap, this is not the first litigation or resistance, clearly highlighting how the City of Cape Town has failed to address the growing concerns that the community is facing in terms of larger scale exclusionary developments which are escalating property prices and eroding the rich socio-cultural heritage of the neighbourhood. The City is not taking responsibility, as it has done in many other inner-city neighbourhoods by simply letting the market dictate.

Lastly, this fracture between state and citizen is leading civics closer towards litigation. Over the last year, Bo Kaap is one of eight civics that are currently considering taking the City to court. One needs to understand, that civics with limited resources, only use litigation and protest as a last resort. Court judgment will only serve if the administration is ready to abide by it both in spirit and action.

This raises key questions about what sort of city we are building. Will the City of Cape Town, and all other spheres of government demonstrate new ways of engaging with regards to urban development? Given the legislative environment, are the civics prepared to engage or will civics be forced to use litigation on every development process? Looking forward, this discontent around current development patterns is additive and will only encourage more solidarity in civil society and build stronger coalitions of civics. This civic coalition response to better governance and administration will be both unprecedented and far-reaching.

-Ends- Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)