Mayhem hit Dunoon as a group of residents started protesting about the lack of housing. Many back-yarders (people that live in shacks at the back of peoples properties) were being forced to move as many landowners have realised that building flats are more profitable.
Although the protest started peacefully it soon got out of control. Police blocked the entrances to Dunoon as things began to get violent. For 3 days shops were looted, Myciti bus stops were trashed and Dunoon came to a stand still.
The initial leaders of the protesters were pushed out as they did not condone the violence. Everyone was scared and divided as threats were made to anyone that resisted the protests or engaged with the City officials.
This was the exact thing myDunoon was trying to avoid but we were adamant to assist.
We hosted a Prayer Meeting during the time – hoping to bring people together. Those that attended felt hope stir and fear decrease. It was only a small minority of our people that were violently protesting and the rest of us all desired peace- we would refuse to give into fear.
Making calls to local leaders we worked together to form a group brave enough to negotiate with the city. Our Director and Chairman formed part of the committee that made their way to the mayors offices in town. Despite getting threats the committee knew that the only way forward was to meet with the officials that could offer solutions.
We had a productive meeting were we could express our frustrations and concerns in a productive manner. It was agreed that the housing issue was extremely important and action needed to be taken immediately. Although any housing project takes time we now had assurance that the first steps were being taken.
The next evening we took the news back to community. Kwanele – the myDunoon chairman was asked to host that meeting as our organisation is free from politics. It was received well and the next day the riots stopped.
We are still part of this committee and continue to work with both local and city leaders.