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Clairwood is Not for Sale

South Durban Community Environmental Alliance Press Statement

Clairwood is Not for Sale: Community Unites for the Mother of All Battles

Clairwood, South Africa, 03 August 2012 – On 2nd August 2012 the Clairwood Ratepayers and Residents Association (CRRA) together with the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) hosted a community meeting at the Clairwood Tamil Institute hall to discuss the proposed spatial development which includes the Dug-out Port, Link Road and Back of Port. Whilst government and industry are punting this development as having a potential increase in employment, the residents of the wider south Durban area will have to deal with many more negative impacts.

Clairwood is an area of numerous cultural and significant factors and this should not be meddled with in the name of profit and economic growth. There is no doubt that these types of developments have the potential to reach a variety of social objectives but at what expense? At the expense of innocent people having to possibly relocate and forcefully be removed once again? These developments were done with no meaningful consultation and only recently have there been public meetings held by the eThekwini Municipality in the various affected communities. This type of development needs proper solid consultation from the beginning of the decision making processes; the communities should have been involved from the start not called in at the tail to rubber stamp a decision that looks to be a fore gone conclusion.

The meeting highlighted the fear of many residents that they could lose the only roof over their heads and their small businesses. Community leaders addressed the crowd passionately as they have the interests of the community at heart.

Rishi Singh, chairperson of the CRRA, stated: “Today, we as residents of Clairwood informed the eThekwini Municipality that we will fight tooth and nail in objection to the area being rezoned from residential to industrial. The government should put people before profits not profits before people”.

Desmond D’sa from SDCEA presented the plans put out by government, saying: “The biggest challenge to the developments will be the south Durban residents who will fight. We should be equated to the struggle of the masses of people during apartheid era when many of us were products of forced removals. This issue goes beyond racial and religious divisions; we will unite for the common interest of the south Durban community.”

Alice Thompson, from Earthlife Africa, stated that the environment will be affected with the many mangroves and sandbanks going being destroyed all in the name of profit.

Newly elected chairperson of the Merebank Residents Association, Arisha Govender Ramjanek, urged residents to “stand together shoulder-to-shoulder to face this battle head on and we will succeed as one community”.

Prof. Brij Maharaj from UKZN titled his presentation a ‘David and Goliath battle’ which is not impossible to win. Maharaj cited the fight about the demolition of the early morning market by the former City Manager Dr Michael Sutcliffe (Goliath) and how the traders of the markets (David)] had overcome this adversity by resisting together. With unity, the right information and legal advice it is very winnable and we will be proactive and provide assistance for the communities in this fight. Roland Prashothum, a legal advisor to the Clairwood Resident and Ratepayers Association, spoke on how the sacrifices made by many during the fight against the apartheid government this have been undermined by the present regime. We need to go back and use the unity we had then to fight this battle for our rights.

Abdul from the Clairwood Shack Dwellers and Informal Settlement stated they will resist forced removals and will go no-where as Clairwood is their only home.

The community of Clairwood is NOT for sale. Residents of the Clairwood community have made it clear that they do not want industrial development in the Clairwood area.

Clairwood is a residential area and residents will not agree to further industrialisation of their area. This means saying no to more trucks, no to more pollution, no to more industries, no to rezoning, no to dugout port, no to link roads and no to back of port expansion. Residents have claimed that they will not be moving anywhere and they want more housing. If there are any type of development that will be taking place in Clairwood it should be for the improvement of Clairwood and not to further exploit an already marginalized community.

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