The City of Cape Town’s Sweet Homes informal settlement upgrade project in Philippi, where two City law enforcement officers were shot dead in the line of duty last week, has been marred by extreme violence throughout its duration.

Sweet Homes upgrade project nears completion. Image credit: EWN

Sweet Homes upgrade project nears completion. Image credit: EWN

These are not the first murders related to the R90-million project which aims to improve the lives of the community. The first phase of the project includes the construction of roads, stormwater and sewer networks, electricity infrastructure and a safer and secure space for vulnerable residents to call their own. While colleagues, friends and family are still struggling to come to terms with the deaths, we honour all who have been murdered while the project work carried on, including:

  • 11 November 2018: two security guards shot dead
  • 1 April 2019: construction worker shot dead
  • 27 May 2019: eight community members shot dead
  • 3 September 2019: law enforcement officers Jan Nieuwenhuys and Simtembile Nyangiwe shot dead while protecting contract workers to complete services on the site.

Six of the eight-member Sweet Homes Project Steering Committee were murdered during the course of this first phase of the project. The City of Cape Town in a media releases says: “Pages on pages of incident reports record murder; repeated theft; the unrelenting attack and stabbing of security guards (including their patrol dogs). It has been a horror project but the completion of its first phase is testament to the resilience of City staff, of our contractors and of our communities.

“We have pushed forward after every murder in honour of the victims and to enhance service delivery.”

The first phase of the project, which has almost been completed at a cost of R60-million, started in 2017 and is nearing completion, but the true cost has been high for the community.