Train com­muters ‘burn’ shacks

Re­tal­i­a­tion comes af­ter com­muters were left stranded when rail­way tracks were bar­ri­caded

The New Age (Gauteng) - - NEWS - KUTULLO MADISHA ku­tul­lom@the­newage.co.za

A MONTH into the Marry Me in­for­mal set­tle­ment ser­vice de­liv­ery protests, two peo­ple have been killed, shacks have been burnt down and ten­sions be­tween train com­muters and the shack dwellers have in­ten­si­fied.

Ju­lia Sek­goa and her five chil­dren have lived in their shack in the com­mu­nity for five years.

When The New Age vis­ited the fam­ily yes­ter­day, Sek­goa and her son were still set­tled on the flat ground that used to be their shack.

“I was sit­ting in my home hid­ing from rocks which were thrown into our homes by the train users. The next thing they pulled my shack and told us to get out as they wanted to burn it. They used grenades which we do not know where they got them from,” Sek­goa said.

All her be­long­ings were lost in the fire, she only made out with the fam­ily’s iden­tity doc­u­ments.

The mother of three said she was not part of the ser­vice de­liv­ery protest and she was just un­lucky be­cause her house was near the rail­way track.

The burning of shacks was re­port­edly done by train com­muters who were re­tal­i­at­ing af­ter they were left stranded when rail­way tracks were bar­ri­caded by pro­test­ers lead­ing to train ser­vices from Mabopane to

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QUICK FACTS

A to­tal of R40m has been put aside as Opex to fi­nalise plan­ning and de­tailed de­signs for in­for­mal set­tle­ments:

About 24 000 peo­ple are on wait­ing list of the hous­ing needs reg­is­ter, back­log dates back as late as 1998.

The old­est in­for­mal set­tle­ment was es­tab­lished in 1995 in Mamelodi.

In the city’s bud­get and IDP, com­mit­ment made to for­malise seven in­for­mal set­tle­ments.

Kopanong be­ing sus­pended.

For close to a month Marry Me res­i­dents have been protest­ing for ba­sic ser­vices such as wa­ter, elec­tric­ity and houses. This has in turn neg­a­tively af­fected busi­ness op­er­a­tions in the area and trans­porta­tion, par­tic­u­larly trains as the set­tle­ment is built along the rail­way line.

The res­i­dents of­ten block­ade He­bron Road with rocks and burning tyres lead­ing to more traf­fic in the area.

Sim­i­lar protests have also been car­ried out at a nearby in­for­mal set­tle­ment called Changing Spot with Roslyn Road, which is the road used to get in and out of Soshanguve, block­aded.

Tsh­wane mayor Solly Msi­manga said in his state of the cap­i­tal ad­dress speech in April that the city had 183 in­for­mal set­tle­ments of which the ma­jor­ity is with­out ac­cess or re­ceive rudi­men­tary ba­sic ser­vices.

He said the city was go­ing to pri­ori­tise the up­grad­ing of ser­vices de­liv­ered to in­for­mal set­tle­ments in or­der to im­prove the qual­ity of life of those res­i­dents through project Ti­rane.

Msi­manga said the city had been al­lo­cated hu­man set­tle­ments de­vel­op­ment grant fund­ing of R90m in 2017-18 to con­struct 1 000 top struc­tures.

How­ever, the sit­u­a­tion is still the same with no ba­sic needs, while the amount of set­tle­ments con­tin­ues to mushroom.

“We have been liv­ing here for many years and we are strug­gling with wa­ter, elec­tric­ity and mark­ing of our stand. The shacks are so close that when one catches fire the rest also catch fire,” a male res­i­dent said.

UP IN FLAMES: Ten­sion is run­ning high be­tween res­i­dents of Marry Me in­for­mal set­tle­ment in Soshanguve and train com­muters af­ter the groups clashed this week.

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