Sicelo res­i­dents fu­ri­ous over squalor

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - TANKISO MAKHETHA tankiso.makhetha@inl.co.za

FOR over a year, res­i­dents of Sicelo in­for­mal set­tle­ment in Mey­er­ton have been up in arms over the lack of hous­ing and have vowed to con­tinue protest­ing un­til the gov­ern­ment gives them homes.

In a bid to quell the ten­sion, Gaut­eng Hu­man Set­tle­ments MEC Paul Mashatile said he will visit the set­tle­ment to­mor­row to ad­dress the res­i­dents.

The com­mu­nity has been rocked by protests over the past two weeks, a year af­ter Mashatile vis­ited them to in­form res­i­dents about new de­vel­op­ments.

The set­tle­ment in the DA-run Mid­vaal Mu­nic­i­pal­ity is a strip of ab­ject poverty and un­em­ploy­ment with­out ba­sic ser­vices such as elec­tric­ity and san­i­ta­tion, con­tribut­ing to the fury of res­i­dents who bear the brunt of this sit­u­a­tion.

Res­i­dents claim there has been no de­vel­op­ment and have com­plained that life is dif­fi­cult un­der th­ese con­di­tions.

“Peo­ple live in squalor here. Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials have been mak­ing prom­ises to im­prove our con­di­tions since 1998… dif­fer­ent may­ors, dif­fer­ent MECs but noth­ing has changed,” said Khotso Mofokeng.

Mofokeng lives in a small shack, prone to leak­ing in rainy sea­sons and swel­ter­ing heat in the sum­mer.

“Of­fi­cials from the mu­nic­i­pal­ity told us that they were go­ing to move us from here be­cause we have built our homes on dolomitic land, which is dan­ger­ous.

“But then on July 1, they said they couldn’t move us, but in­stead would start the process of elec­tri­fy­ing the com­mu­nity. They said MEC Mashatile would come to ad­dress us and ex­plain what was hap­pen­ing, but he didn’t come,” Mofokeng said.

Makashule Gana, the DA’s spokesper­son for co-op­er­a­tive gov­er­nance and tra­di­tional af­fairs in Gaut­eng, last week blamed the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment for fail­ing to de­liver on its prom­ises, which he said had ig­nited the protests in re­cent weeks.

Gana blamed Mashatile, ar­gu­ing that he had promised res­i­dents land and houses, which he has the author­ity and re­sources to de­liver, and not the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

“He has since gone quiet, re­sult­ing in res­i­dents tak­ing the mat­ter to the door of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity,” Gana added.

This led to an­other round of volatile protests over the past two weeks. Such was the volatil­ity, that the Red Ants were de­ployed to pre­vent res­i­dents’ anger spilling over onto the R59.

The high­way was closed to traf­fic last week af­ter protesters bar­ri­caded it with burn­ing tyres, rocks and rub­ble.

Mashatile said his depart­ment has five projects in the area for Sicelo and four other com­mu­ni­ties – Mamello, Khayelit­sha, Boi­tumelo and Pills Farm. Th­ese projects are set to yield over 3 300 houses.

PIC­TURE: CHRIS COLLINGRIDGE

DES­PER­ATE: Sicelo in­for­mal set­tlers block the R59 be­fore po­lice dis­persed them with tear­gas. They are up in arms over the lack of hous­ing and ba­sic ameni­ties, ab­ject poverty and suf­fer­ing.

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