South Durban Community Environmental Alliance
 
PRESS STATEMENT
 
11 December 2002
 
Communities mobilise to fight Unicity's forced removal plans!

The South Durban communities of Wentworth, Merebank and Umlazi are holding a mass meeting tonight along with Concerned Citizens Forum communities from Chatsworth and Sydenham Heights to plan a campaign of rolling mass action against forced removal, rightsizing, evictions, relocation of industry into poor communities and privatization of housing. 

This comes in the wake of the Unicity’s attempts to “rightsize” poor Chatsworth residents, privatize the flats of Sydenham Heights, and make deals with industry in South Durban to remove people out of the area. 

The SDCEA Steering Committee also resolved late night to demand a moratorium on all industries relocating into South Durban. According to SDCEA, relocation of industry into South Durban means that the environment gets worse and that people have to be relocated out. South Durban residents refuse to be forcibly removed for the second time. 

SDCEA also resolved to oppose all industrial expansion in the basin until the air quality is cleaned up and fit for humans to breathe. South Durban communities are totally against the statements made by ANC City Manager, Mike Sutcliffe that the poor of South Durban are living in the wrong area, and that the City needs in the future to be more sensitive to industry.

SDCEA demands that the City stop denying us our constitutional rights to a healthy environment. There have been two spills of toxic chemicals in residential areas, including a spill next to the playground of the poor Barracks community, since yesterday morning. How much more blood does government want on their hands by allowing all these accidents to continue in South Durban before they take legal steps against industry?

The City has not only failed to take action against industry but is refusing to disclose what chemicals were spilt and which company is to blame. Yesterday there was an oil spillage on Bluff Road and last night a tanker carrying chemicals spilt on the corner of Tara and Duranta Roads. Metro Police chased away community members who went to enquire. They have refused again this morning to disclose any information. Metro police also removed the private cleaning workers away from the community when they were asking questions. The workers were not wearing masks and their health was placed at risk. The chemicals also leaked into nearby stormwater drains.  

The poor will never accept another forced removal. We demand a clean environment and decent housing for all. Mike Sutcliffe and his City Council must learn some respect for the poor of Durban otherwise we will teach them some respect. 

…/ends 

For comment call Stephen van Wyk on 031 4611991 or 031 4681257