Durban - Investigations into the killings and living conditions at uMlazi’s notorious Glebelands Hostel are under way.
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, her deputy advocate, Kevin Malunga, and the SA Human Rights Commission representative in Durban, Tanuja Munnoo, met residents of the hostel’s Blocks R and 52 representatives behind closed doors on Thursday.
Madonsela was returning to the hostel after her initial December visit at the request of human rights activists and representatives of the hostel residents.
She said the meetings were held behind closed doors because the investigations were at a “crucial stage”.
There was a heavy police guard around the two blocks, with some residents commenting in hushed tones that such police visibility could have prevented the death of many hostel dwellers.
Briefing the media after the Block R meeting, Madonsela said serious concerns raised during her December visit had led to her office investigating the causes of the killings and the living conditions at the hostel.
She said they proposed security reinforcement, a move that has led to a drop in the number of killings.
“Before our current visit another concern was raised that the National Intervention Unit that was deployed has been withdrawn and we have since followed that up. We were told that since the unit operated nationally, the calm in the hostel has led to the unit being moved elsewhere. This morning we received assurance that the unit will be brought back in,” Madonsela said.
She said they had yet to meet the provincial government, eThekwini Metro officials and the departments of Social Development and Housing.
“Remember some of the concerns raised by the residents were socio-economic issues, hence the meeting with various stakeholders. The deputy public protector will be meeting them on March 10. Should people decide to move out of this hostel there should be a place for them to go to. “
“The importance for us is to hold the state accountable in all aspects including service delivery. We are therefore also looking at the municipality and the Department of Social Development. In search of a long-term solution to this mayhem, we are formally investigating the cause of the conflict and it will take about three months to completion. Initially we started with an intervention to ensure no more people were killed,” Madonsela said.
A resident who asked to remain anonymous said it was a “known fact” there was rivalry between Blocks R and 52 residents. “Since this started we have always told those who claimed to be investigating the killings that the problem is with these two blocks.”