‘Build wall between war­ring com­mu­ni­ties’

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - SAKHILE NDLAZI

BUILD­ING a “big wall” in Mahube would be the best way to sep­a­rate home­own­ers and il­le­gal land oc­cu­pants and curb the on­go­ing vi­o­lence, Tsh­wane mayor Solly Msi­manga said yes­ter­day.

He spoke of the un­usual so­lu­tion while ad­dress­ing the two groups af­ter a night of un­rest and vi­o­lence which left some homes dam­aged.

“What we want to do as part of a per­ma­nent so­lu­tion is to cre­ate a buf­fer between the house own­ers and the il­le­gal squat­ters. This will en­sure the safety of both the com­mu­ni­ties’ mem­bers,” said Msi­manga.

When asked how soon the wall could be built, Msi­manga replied: “As soon as pos­si­ble.”

The sug­ges­tion of the wall came af­ter a court in­ter­dict by the for­mal house own­ers to re­move il­le­gal in­for­mal set­tle­ment res­i­dents was not granted.

In­stead, the court granted an in­ter­dict for the il­le­gal squat­ters to re­frain from dam­ag­ing their neigh­bours’ houses and in­tim­i­dat­ing them.

On Wed­nes­day night, sev­eral houses and shacks were petrol-bombed and dam­aged fol­low­ing an overnight bat­tle between res­i­dents of the mid­dle-class area and those of the nearby in­for­mal set­tle­ment.

Home­own­ers were com­plain­ing about the in­crease in their util­ity bills due to the il­le­gal con­nec­tions al­legedly made by the in­for­mal set­tlers.

The shack dwellers have al­legedly con­nected them­selves to the water and elec­tric­ity sup­ply of the homes, lead­ing to an in­crease in the bills.

The clash took a turn when a mini-sub­sta­tion was set alight and houses and shacks torched with petrol bombs. A fire en­gine was also dam­aged in the process.

There were, how­ever, mixed feel­ings about the pro­posed wall.

The owner of a bonded house, who wished to re­main anony­mous, said the de­ci­sion would cause more dam­age and pos­si­bly deaths.

On the other side, shack dwellers wel­comed Msi­manga’s pro­posed wall, say­ing it was a work­able way for­ward.

The city’s elec­tric­ity per­son­nel who went on site to as­sess the dam­age at the sub­sta­tion were threat­ened by the squat­ters, and had to leave, fear­ing for their safety.

Pub­lic-or­der po­lice in Nyalas were de­ployed to pa­trol the area last night.

PIC­TURE: OUPA MOKOENA

PEACE: Il­le­gal squat­ters halt near their shacks af­ter po­lice man­aged to stop their fight with house own­ers at Mahube Val­ley in Mamelodi East yes­ter­day.

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