Gauteng to pay R65m to repair protest damage

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IOL news sep 27  ST bekkersdal01

INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Bekkersdals municipal offices were vandalised during a service delivery protest. Damage to government property in Bekkersdal was estimated at R20m. File photo: Adrian de Kock

Johannesburg - It is going to cost the Gauteng provincial government at least R65 million to repair government buildings destroyed during violent service delivery protests.

This was revealed by MEC for Co-operative Governance, Traditional Affairs and Human Settlements Ntombi Mekgwe on Tuesday.

Gauteng has conducted an audit of buildings destroyed during violent demonstrations.

Mekgwe sternly warned communities to stop torching public facilities during protests as the replacement value was escalating and the government was constrained in rebuilding immediately.

“The delays in rebuilding of such facilities could result in communities being seriously disadvantaged for many years to come,” she said.

She noted that the province’s assessment of the damage stood at about R65m. The amount could rise with the continuation of violent protests.

“The torching of public buildings is a crime. It is illegal, unacceptable and has to stop immediately. If it continues, we will reach a stage where all facilities in our societies are ruined, to the detriment of us as a people.

“These violent protest actions have also reversed key successes achieved over the years and add further financial strain to the provincial coffers,” Mekgwe said.

The funds needed to rebuild torched public buildings had to be found somewhere because they were not in the budget. As a result, many communities could wait for years.

In the case of Bekkersdal alone, damage was estimated at R20m. This included the destruction of the community hall, gymnasium, council offices, business hub, clinic, local business training centre, farmer-support centre and the multi-purpose centre.

“Some of these buildings were torched before and had just been restored last year at a cost of R4.5m.”

The multi-purpose centre had been torched for the third time. “The damage is so devastating that we will have to demolish the entire structure,” said a project manager on site.

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