Bonginkosi Madikizela, the MEC for Human Settlements, was escorted to safety when a group of angry residents confronted him as he tried to address a housing handover ceremony in George Kerridge in Vredenburg yesterday.
The residents, many of them wearing ANC shirts, claimed he was there to score “political points” before the elections. Police escorted him to his car as the crowd became rowdy and he was blocked from entering the community hall where the ceremony was held.
Madikizela and Saldanha mayor Francois Schippers had to skip the ceremony and went directly to the houses where they handed them over to the beneficiaries.
Madikizela said: “I am disgusted by what happened at the hall. People use this to score points as elections are looming. We decided to leave them because we did not want to fight with them. We are not here to campaign, people need to understand that.”
He said he would not hand houses to beneficiaries wear- ing T-shirts of a political party.
“People need to be clear that this is a government event not an election campaign. I am not going to hand over a house to anyone wearing a T-shirt from any political party. We left the hall because we did not want to argue with them, but now they are following us. I will not tolerate this. This is not in the spirit of democracy,” Madikizela said.
He said residents had been given ANC T-shirts to politicise the event.
Thanduxolo Salman, an ANC member in the area, said the venue had been booked for another event which was later cancelled.
“I found it very disturbing that the MEC said he will not hand over houses to people wearing ANC T-shirts. How do you tell people what to wear or not wear. He was there as a government representative and he turned it into a political thing.”
Yesterday, 400 houses were handed over to beneficiaries. Another 64 will be handed over by April.
Mpilanga Manqeyi, 60, was among those who received a house yesterday. He and his family had spent for over 10 years in a shack.
“I still can’t believe we have a place that we can call home. I never thought of it. Not many people get a proper house, but we did get it. I think the wait was worthwhile. We feel safer than ever because when you stay in a shack, you have to be cautious about the things you do,” Manqeyi said.