Angry residents of Tshwane informal settlement torch cars
THE GAUTENG provincial government sent a senior team to the volatile Gomora informal settlement, west of Pretoria, yesterday to quell violent protests which led to running battles between police and residents, and a trail of destruction.
Gauteng MEC for Co-operative Governance, Traditional Affairs and Human Settlements Paul Mashatile was represented by Joshua Ngonyama, chief director for water and sanitation, who had a meeting and answered several questions from the fuming community members, who are demanding formal housing in the area.
“I think it’s really unfortunate that cars were burnt today, which was not how we wanted the situation to be resolved. We are saying we want to create open communication channels with community leaders, hence we are saying it was important for us to meet this community,” Ngonyama told African News Agency after his meeting with the protesters.
“We know them (the Gomora residents) and we know their struggles and their concerns. We will be there to resolve them within an applicable timeframe that we would like to negotiate with the City of Tshwane.”
Ngonyama, the former Tshwane mayoral committee member for housing under the previous ANC administration, said the land occupied by Gomora residents had been acquired by provincial authorities, and nothing could stop amenities from flowing into the community.
“This area known as Gomora was in private hands for more than eight years, until the Gauteng province bought the land in 2015.
“Unfortunately, the transfer of the land took long. It was only finalised now, in 2017. What we have done today is to ensure that the power of attorney is given to the City of Tshwane to enable it to bring electricity to the area,” said Ngonyama.
He said the provincial and municipal authorities would be discussing the kind of houses to construct for the people of Gomora.
Ngonyama addressed the crowd of protesters after at least seven vehicles were torched yesterday.
Tshwane’s premises for nursery and training operations were also gutted by flames. Three vehicles were also torched in the premises.
Earlier, Tshwane West SAPS cluster spokesperson Captain Tumisang Moloto said no arrests had been made.
“No one has been arrested, but we have deployed our public order police to monitor and to assess the situation. We are also increasing the police presence in the area to prevent any violent activities,” he said.
Some residents of Hercules, adjacent to the informal settlement, complained that the protesters were throwing stones into their yards, smashing windows and tearing down electric fencing.
“I have been standing out here since 2am. They were here to do damage. Look, we don’t have electricity now because they set the pole alight. They have pulled down my electric wire,” said one homeowner, who asked not to be identified.
TORCHED: Three vehicles and a truck were set alight by Gomora informal settlement protesters fighting for service delivery.