Le­gal en­mity to Mashaba’s in­ner-city pro­ject

CityPress - - News - DEWALD VAN RENS­BURG and S’THEMBILE CELE news@city­press.co.za

Jo­han­nes­burg mayor Her­man Mashaba has ex­ag­ger­ated the ex­tent of il­le­gal oc­cu­pa­tion in in­ner-city prop­er­ties, say lawyers on both sides of the long le­gal bat­tle over “bad build­ings”.

Since tak­ing of­fice, Mashaba has re­peat­edly promised to “re­claim” the in­ner city of Jo­han­nes­burg.

In his “first 100 days in of­fice” speech last week, Mashaba ac­cused th­ese “so-called hu­man rights lawyers” of “us­ing the courts to keep peo­ple un­der th­ese con­di­tions to the ben­e­fit of the slum lords”.

In a speech at the Jo­han­nes­burg Chamber of Com­merce and In­dus­try (JCCI) in Oc­to­ber, he vowed to tackle “crim­i­nals pro­tected by the ju­di­ciary”.

On both oc­ca­sions, Mashaba said that he would as­sem­ble his own team of “hu­man rights lawyers to as­sist us to re­claim the in­ner city from crim­i­nals and slum lords”.

He told busi­ness­peo­ple at the JCCI that he was talk­ing to the best lawyers in the coun­try to sort things out. The lawyers that Mashaba has blamed for per­pet­u­at­ing slums in­clude those from the So­cio-Eco­nomic Rights In­sti­tute of SA, which has been fight­ing evic­tion cases in Jo­han­nes­burg for years.

It is un­cer­tain what Mashaba’s new team of lawyers will do as the So­cio-Eco­nomic Rights In­sti­tute of SA and the city are head­ing to the Con­sti­tu­tional Court in Fe­bru­ary to ar­gue the case that has left the evic­tion of al­most 4 000 peo­ple in the in­ner city in limbo since 2014.

Nomzamo Zondo, direc­tor of lit­i­ga­tion at the So­cio-Eco­nomic Rights In­sti­tute of SA, said Mashaba’s ag­gres­sive rhetoric against hu­man rights lawyers and in­hab­i­tants of bad build­ings hardly rep­re­sented a de­par­ture from the views of the ANC ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“This whole fas­ci­na­tion with prop­erty own­ers and what they can do for the city – it is some­thing that was al­ways there, even dur­ing [ANC mayor Parks] Tau’s ten­ure ... Mashaba is just more up­front about it,” she said.

She said it was still wor­ry­ing that the city was not see­ing peo­ple, but only bad build­ings. At the very least, they were now try­ing to en­gage on is­sues sur­round­ing peo­ple liv­ing in­side th­ese build­ings. She said Mashaba has gone too far in la­belling the poor oc­cu­pants of th­ese di­lap­i­dated build­ings as drug deal­ers, slum­lords and il­le­gal oc­cu­pants.

Mashaba has ar­gued that he could bring in “pas­sion­ate and ded­i­cated” de­vel­op­ers with the po­ten­tial to in­vest R20 bil­lion in the con­struc­tion of new and bet­ter hous­ing.

Mean­while, City Press un­der­stands that next year could see a se­ri­ous show­down be­tween San­ral and lobby group Outa as the two par­ties head to court. While e-tolls were a ma­jor cam­paign­ing point for par­ties dur­ing this year’s lo­cal gov­ern­ment election, noone has man­aged to ini­ti­ate a cred­i­ble process to get them scrapped.

The DA, which se­cured two of Gaut­eng’s ma­jor met­ros, is yet to come up with a so­lu­tion to the e-toll im­passe.

In ques­tions posed to the DA may­ors of Tsh­wane and Jo­han­nes­burg, both re­it­er­ated their op­po­si­tion to e-tolls, but could not iden­tify any ef­forts in their first 100 days of of­fice to put a stop to them.

“Mayor Mashaba has stated on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions that he un­der­stands that the re­moval of e-tolls can­not hap­pen at lo­cal gov­ern­ment level. While he con­tin­ues to op­pose e-tolls, he has stated that the only time they will be re­moved is when the DA wins the na­tional gov­ern­ment elec­tions,” said Mashaba’s spokesper­son, Tony Tav­erna-Turisan.

Mean­while, Tsh­wane mayor Solly Msi­manga’s spokesper­son, Sam Mgob­ozi, said: “After as­sum­ing of­fice, there are myr­iad pri­or­ity items on the new ad­min­is­tra­tion’s agenda and this is one of the things we are look­ing into in fur­ther de­tail.”

Gaut­eng Premier David Makhura this week tabled his po­lit­i­cal re­port, which took a firm stance against cor­rup­tion, but didn’t shed any light on the way for­ward on e-tolls.

Outa’s Wayne Du­ve­nage told City Press that the en­tity was res­o­lute in its bid to see the re­moval of e-tolls, in­di­cat­ing that things would come to a head next year.

“The ma­jor gain is the devel­op­ment of the le­gal de­fen­sive chal­lenge that is un­fold­ing be­tween our le­gal team and San­ral. This show­down will un­fold in 2017 and all in­di­ca­tions are that San­ral has a weak case. Hav­ing is­sued more than 6 000 sum­monses months ago, not one case has been taken to court. Its last straw will be to en­force com­pli­ance through the ve­hi­cle li­cens­ing process. If it chooses this route, it will be di­rectly invit­ing the e-toll re­volt into the ve­hi­cle li­cens­ing arena,” Du­ve­nage said.

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