‘Build wall between warring communities’
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.
PEACE: Illegal squatters halt near their shacks after police managed to stop their fight with house owners at Mahube Valley in Mamelodi East yesterday.