IN a day of high drama yesterday which saw about 5000 protesters continue angry, violent demonstrations in Nelson Mandela Bay, ANC regional chairman Nceba Faku and executive mayor Zanoxolo Wayile intervened and promised a plan of action by early today.
In its second disruptive day, the protest saw Walmer township residents again burning tyres and blocking roads but this time violence erupted in several clashes, leaving two policemen and a security guard injured, while two pupils were hospitalised after inhaling gas.
Seven people, including several children, were arrested for public violence and damage to property.
The protesters – who are demanding housing, electricity and water – also burnt a house to the ground and at least two construction companies had on-site building material and equipment burnt and stoned.
Despite the efforts of Faku and Wayile to defuse the situation, the residents have vowed to continue with their protest this morning .
This comes after a failed promise by human settlement portfolio committee chairman Fekile Desi and his health counterpart, Mamisa Chabula-Nxiweni, to come back on Tuesday with a detailed plan of how the city intended to speedily deliver housing, electricity and proper sanitation to the community.
The protesters eventually dispersed soon after Faku, Wayile and members of the council promised to come up with a plan of action by no later than 8am today.
A meeting of council members and community leaders to tackle the issues and come up with solutions went on late into the night.
However, addressing the crowd during a break from an intense discussion between 18 community representatives and members of the mayoral committee and the ANC’s regional committee, community leader Julius Nompodo urged residents to start toyi- toyiing at 4am today.
"We are not here as people who don’t have direction. We are fighting our own battle for a better life. Comrade Giraffe [a reference to Faku] wants to meet us all at 8am [today] but I urge you all to start gathering as early as 4am for a protest in case things don’t go according to our satisfaction [last night],” he said.
Another resident, who wanted to be known as "maka” Siphokazi, said the municipality was neglecting Walmer township in all its service delivery programmes.
"The township is older than Motherwell yet there is more progress there. All we get is empty promises.
"Two weeks ago they [municipal officials] promised to give us an answer within seven days. They called a meeting on Monday and none of them pitched.
"On Tuesday they told us they are going to bring a detailed plan with a timeline as to when they will solve our problem,” she said.
"We stood outside the City Hall for hours, only to be told no one would address us.”
Walmer councillor Nomajama Bhenya said the residents had sent her a list of grievances and she had passed it on to the relevant municipal structures months ago, but there had been no follow-ups.
Yesterday, more businesses were disrupted as workers could not get to work and Walmer High School had to go off early as protesters threatened that no schooling would be allowed to take place.
Police said seven people had already been arrested for public violence and damage to property, while more arrests were expected should the protests continue.
Spokesman Captain Stanley Jarvis said two police officers and a security guard were injured while two Walmer High pupils were rushed to hospital after inhaling gas.