Sicelo residents furious over squalor
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.
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.