Pretoria - Mooiplaats residents willing to be relocated from the informal settlement to nearby Olievenhoutbosch were left helpless and frustrated on Tuesday after their expected move was met with fierce opposition.
Rocks, bricks and burning tyres barricaded the road leading into Olievenhoutbosch, sending a clear message that an influx of new-comers would not be tolerated.
“We are fighting for houses for ourselves and now the municipality wants to move in people from another area, but there isn’t even space for us. It wants to give them houses, but where are ours? They must be joking,” a resident said.
Scores of protesters gathered on the R55 at the two main roads to the township around 4am on Tuesday, preventing vehicles from moving in or out. They dispersed late in the afternoon, police said.
“All the affected roads have been reopened,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini.
Earlier, a foolhardy man was lucky to get out of harm’s way. He drove past protesters at high speed and his car was pelted with rocks and stones. He escaped into the area but the protesters went in search of him. Minutes later, the car, with a mob of about 30 on top and inside, pushed it to a nearby traffic light, where hundreds more damaged it further. The vehicle was overturned and a tyre placed on top of it, in full view of about five metro police officers.
Photographers who tried to capture the action were called impimpis and spies, were threatened and almost had their cameras forcefully taken by the mob. Metro police had to rescue a curious onlooker who captured the action on his cellphone after the mob had turned on him.
Olievenhoutbosch community leader and SA National Civil Organisation secretary Kleinbooi Aphane said the protesters would not back down. “People in Extension 27 have been promised RDP houses since 2012. If the mayor moves Mooiplaats people here, they will be entitled to the homes that our people have been waiting for for years but still don’t have.”
Kleinbooi said there were between 10 000 and 15 000 Olievenhoutbosch residents already in that section, and only 4 500 RDP houses commissioned to be built.
“You tell me where the 5 000 people from Mooiplaats must stay? The mayor must not make empty promises to the people.”
Aphane said they had asked council representatives to accept a memorandum, but were ignored.
Mooiplaats community leader Rabie Ndlovu said tensions were building from those ready to move but left stranded.
“They want answers. People had packed to go but there is no word from the city’s housing department. They made people wait and wait.”