Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula and the Prasa board visited the Siyahlala Informal Settlement in Langa at the weekend. Picture Sisonke Mlamla/Cape Argus
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula and the Prasa board visited the Siyahlala Informal Settlement in Langa at the weekend. Picture Sisonke Mlamla/Cape Argus

Prasa to approach the court to evict railway invaders

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Mar 1, 2021

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Cape Town - Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) would seek an eviction order from the Western Cape High Court this week, to remove the people who are illegally occupying its premises at Philippi and Langa’s railway tracks.

This was after Mbalula's briefing at the Langa train station where he was introducing Zolani Matthews as a new permanent chief executive for the entity since Lucky Montana resigned in 2015.

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After his weekend briefing, the Prasa board, Matthews and Mbalula visited the Siyahlala informal settlement on the railway tracks in Langa to assess the situation.

To their surprise, the shacks had increased in numbers. Mbalula said this was devastating as it was affecting rail services.

“There will never be any train moving here in the next 10 to 20 years as long as these people are still here, and they are doing it deliberately,” said Mbalula.

The Siyahlala Informal Settlement on the Langa rail tracks are increasing. Picture: Sisonke Mlamla

He said the people were occupying the land with a full knowledge that by-law they will be taken somewhere, “and now they are calling cousins, grandchildren, great-great grandchildren from deep in the Eastern Cape to erect shacks here, with an expectation that we have got an obligation to take them to a place.”

Siyahlala informal settlement committee secretary, Nomzamo Gatuya, said they did not attend the briefing because the minister and the Prasa board had not invited them.

Gatuya said Prasa should give them land with water, electricity and toilets to build their homes, and it should not be far from Langa.

Since February 1, the day Prasa issued letters of notice urging residents to vacate its premises, saying failure to vacate within 10 days would result in further delays in Prasa repairing the railway infrastructure.

Prasa board chairperson Leonard Ramatlakane said together with Public Works, Human Settlements both national and provincial, and the City, they had already been working together in securing alternative settlements to clear the line for rehabilitation.

He said the relocation of the illegal settlements on the Central Line was critical for the programme to succeed, so Prasa issued notices to the illegal occupants to vacate.

Good party secretary-general Brett Herron said the solution to encroachment on the rail reserve, where some people were literally living on the edge of the tracks, has been the subject of discussion between the City and Prasa for years.

Cape Argus

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