Pretoria - Residents in areas without cemeteries are being pushed “to violate spiritual and cultural practices by burning their dead” while the City of Tshwane continues to give away land that could be used for burials, the PAC has said.
The city has given 602 hectares of land worth about R38.42 million to 165 churches and more to other beneficiaries.
PAC regional chairman Sbusiso Xaba said the city was failing its people by alienating a key asset of service delivery, which was land, while townships and other previously disadvantaged communities lacked cemeteries and schools.
Xaba said the ANC in the City of Tshwane was abusing its majority by continuing to approve land donations instead of focusing on real problems affecting the people.
“This forces people in previously disadvantaged areas to burn their dead, which goes against spiritual and cultural norms,” he said.
The latest attack in the controversial land restoration and allocation follows yet another approval of donation of properties by the mayoral committee in areas such as Mamelodi, Mabopane, Olievenhoutbosch, Hammanskraal, Brooklyn and Nellmapius. Beneficiaries include the Zion Christian Church, taxi associations and many others.
Xaba said while the PAC was not opposed to churches and taxi associations as beneficiaries, the real reason was that the donation and sale of land increased opportunities for the looting of city coffers.
He called for active citizenship in monitoring the city treasury.
Xaba called on ratepayers to question seriously the intention and interest of municipal officials handling the city’s business.
DA spokesman councillor Johan Jansen said the party was most certainly not satisfied with the manner in which land was being donated.
While there might be deserving cases like NGOs and churches operating on land for extended periods, the DA was opposed to the extent to which land was being given away. Jansen said this was probably being done with the intention of winning votes next year for the ANC.
“This is eroding the asset base of Tshwane,” he said.
“The DA also objects to the way in which the Municipal Asset Transfer Regulations are being disregarded by the ANC.
“If land is of no use to Tshwane, it should be sold or leased at its market value as prescribed by law, generating income for the city in the form of lease or sale revenue, plus the applicable rates and taxes.”
The City of Tshwane said it remained committed to the restoration of dignity to the people through programmes such as land restoration and the allocation of city resources for the benefit of community interests and activities.
Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa was unapologetic.
He said the city would continue to donate not only land but city services, and give rates rebates to churches.