‘Bash­ers’ quiet af­ter build­ing col­lapsed

The Star Early Edition - - LETTERS - Pro­fes­sor Themba Sono

IT IS good that a prom­i­nent daily such as The Star has dis­played the City of Joburg’s on­slaught, not only on slum­lords but also on the du­bi­ous char­ac­ters who have hi­jacked th­ese build­ings and turned them into, not just their il­le­gal abodes, but also as dens of in­iq­uity and cesspools of con­tra­band.

The Star has pro­vided in­valu­able in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing some of the dark com­ings and go­ings in our cities.

The en­er­getic ex­ec­u­tive mayor of Joburg, Her­man Mashaba, has long warned about all sorts of il­le­gal­i­ties go­ing on in the in­ner cities. But the usual sus­pects in the “hu­man rights bri­gade” and other as­sorted rented of­fi­cial wail­ers de­scended on mayor Mashaba as if he had com­mit­ted crim­i­nal mis­deeds by de­nounc­ing th­ese il­le­gal­i­ties.

Mashaba had warned since tak­ing of­fice that for the City of Joburg to be a world-class African city, a lot of regeneration work would have to be done.

Vested in­ter­ests were not happy with Mashaba’s stance.

Some sought the me­dia to spew re­crim­i­na­tions against Mashaba for be­ing “xeno­pho­bic” and oth­ers de­nounced him for in­cite­ment of racial/ re­li­gious/eth­nic/na­tional ori­gin ha­tred or big­otry when all that Mashaba was say­ing was that the “rule of law” must pre­vail, that democ­racy does not mean li­cen­tious­ness.

The re­crim­i­na­tions abruptly stopped, how­ever, when Mashaba’s fears came to pass with the tragic deaths at the hi­jacked Cape York build­ing.

It turned out that the owner of the build­ing, an Ethiopian South African cit­i­zen, had al­legedly for years, been seek­ing the evic­tion of ten­ants, who had, in ef­fect, be­come squat­ters. This fel­low did not spend his R9 mil­lion to pur­chase a build­ing for it to be hi­jacked by in­ter­lop­ers, only to be con­verted into a squat­ter camp.

But nei­ther the City of Joburg of­fi­cials nor the hu­man righters came to the aid of the owner. He pleaded in vain. It was only when Mashaba came on board that ves­tiges of move­ment be­came vis­i­ble.

Mashaba’s of­fi­cials raided the build­ing sev­eral days be­fore the tragedy oc­curred.

Strangely, the sen­ti­men­tal drool that emit­ted from the lips of the Mashaba bash­ers were nowhere to be seen when the oc­cu­piers of the Cape York build­ing died so trag­i­cally.

Did th­ese bash­ers come for­ward to of­fer the re­main­ing sur­vivors ac­com­mo­da­tion at their homes or premises to pro­tect the “hu­man rights of th­ese un­for­tu­nates”? Of course not. Or to vol­un­teer fi­nan­cial sup­port for the funer­als? I doubt it.

Mayor Mashaba’s con­cerns were more pre­scient than those of the mayor of Lon­don whose Gren­fell Tower build­ing burned down and an un­known num­ber of res­i­dents per­ished. It turned out that the Gren­fell Tow­ers build­ing had vir­tu­ally no cred­i­ble fire ex­tin­guish­ers. And both the Lon­don and Joburg build­ings had an un­known num­ber of im­mi­grants.

But with al­most a hun­dred build­ings to in­spect and per­haps re­claim and re­ha­bil­i­tate, Mashaba still has a mas­sive re­spon­si­bil­ity on his hands.

For­tu­nately, Mashaba is a gen­uine ex­ec­u­tive mayor un­like some nom­i­nal ex­ec­u­tives who pop­u­late many of our mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties but in re­al­ity are sim­ply highly paid cer­e­mo­nial may­ors. Cen­tu­rion


NO HOME: A metro po­lice of­fi­cer re­quests an ID from a woman who said she did not have one and was here il­le­gally. Flats were in­spected and il­le­gal im­mi­grants ar­rested.

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