Durban workers protest for better security

Mary Papayya

Mary Papayya

At least 500 workers marched for 5km in KwaMashu, north of Durban, yesterday to draw attention to the dangers they face when they walk to work every day.

The workers, all residents of the eThekwini municipality's low-cost housing projects at Mount Moriah and Mount Royal, said 20 people had died since they moved to their new homes in 2005.

The dead were all victims of road accidents and robberies - most being attacked when they walked home at night.

Community leader Nathi Mogotsi said: "Some women have been raped at night when they were walking [home] from work."

The placard-carrying protesters toyi-toyied and called for their concerns to be taken seriously, saying they were tired of being treated as second-class citizens.

The workers also want a bridge to connect Mount Moriah and Mount Royal, which are separated by a river.

"If the two developments are connected then both communities will have access to a bus route and residents won't have to walk on the busy M25 to get to the nearest bus stop," said Mogotsi.

The M25 highway is one of Durban's busiest arterial traffic routes joining the north and central parts of the city.

Mogotsi said the community also wanted Metrorail to build a pedestrian bridge to create a footpath to connect Mount Royal residents to the nearby Duffs Road railway station.

"Right now residents get arrested because they have to illegally cross a railway line to get to the train," said Mogotsi.

The residents of Mount Moriah and Mount Royal were relocated from KwaMashu's L Section and other informal settlements in Durban.

The protesters said that if their demands were not met in a week more protest action would follow.

They also called for transport facilities to allow them to get to work and their children to get to school.

A memorandum outlining their demands was handed over to a representative of the Department of Transport, Safety and Security in KwaZulu-Natal, Metrorail and local bus company Alton Bus Company.

The stakeholders were given seven days to respond.

Transport spokesman Nonklululeko Mbatha said the residents' concerns would be looked at carefully by the ministry and because it was the Easter weekend the department would try to respond as soon as possible.

"We have to look at what is possible here and respond accordingly," she said.