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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 May, 2005, 10:24 GMT 11:24 UK
SA housing protests turn violent
Khayelitsha township
Access to housing remains a pressing concern
South African police have arrested 21 people amid housing protests in two Cape Town townships.

Protests began in Guguletu at the weekend as people occupied vacant land.

About 500 people blocked roads and put up burning barricades, in protest at the lack of housing and services 11 years after the end of apartheid.

Protests spread to Khayelitsha township, where on Monday people emptied night-soil buckets onto a road to protest the lack of flush toilets.

Reports from both areas say the police fired rubber bullets to disperse the protesters.

[Council] promised that things would improve here - but look, we still don't have toilets or any drainage and with the winter rain, the place will be flooded
Jongikhaya Vanto, Khayelitsha resident

Police spokesman Randal Stoffel said the police had taken action after protesters threw stones and that those arrested would be charged with public violence.

But Khayelitsha resident Mbuyiseli Peter, who was shot in the leg, said "the police were aggressive and shot at people indiscriminately".

'Concerned'

Western Cape provincial premier Ebrahim Rasool said he was "very concerned" about the protests.

"These do not belong in a democratic society in which people have avenues for the legitimate expression of grievances," he said.

Khayelitsha resident Jongikhaya Vanto told the Cape Argus newspaper that promises made by a local councillor had not been kept.

"He promised that things would improve here - but look, we still don't have toilets or any drainage and with the winter rain, the place will be flooded," Mr Vanto said.

South Africa has built 1.6m new houses and 9m people have gained access to water since the end of apartheid in 1994, but shortages remain severe.

Rapid urbanisation has made the shortfall in Cape Town particularly accute.


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