City failed Glebelands hostel
Durban - The eThekwini Municipality and the KZN Social Development Department have failed the people of Glebelands Hostel.
In her report, titled “Stop the Carnage”, released on Friday, outgoing Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found that the municipality and the department failed to carry out their constitutional mandate to provide victims of the violence and forced evictions at the uMlazi complex with the assistance required of them by the Constitution.
Madonsela found that the municipality failed to promote a safe and healthy environment within the hostel as required by section 152 (1) (d) of the Constitution and as envisioned in its own Hostel Policy, approved in 1998.
This failure constituted improper conduct as envisaged by the Constitution and maladministration as envisaged in the Public Protector Act, read the report.
“The eThekwini Municipality hostel policy provides for, among other things, the implementation of an effective access control, the signing of lease agreements, the regularisation of occupancy, and payment of rent and the control of trading within the hostels,” she said in the report.
During the murders and forceful evictions at the hostel, Madonsela said Social Development was asked to help distressed individuals and families affected by the violence.
“The department failed to fulfil its responsibility to the victims and this failure is contrary to its policy on social relief of distress. This failure constitutes improper conduct and maladministration.”
Her “appropriate remedial action” included that the municipality compiles a database of the evicted people and that in the event that these people could not be returned to their rooms, suitable alternative accommodation be provided to them.
The municipality was to also implement the access control as provided for in its hostel policy, and the city manager must ensure Glebelands residents have equitable access to municipal services.
These include regular refuse collection, repairing or replacement of damaged water and sewage pipes, maintenance of hostel grounds and the improvement of lighting.
The municipality was to implement rental collection as provided for in the hostel policy and control trading within the hostel premises.
Madonsela found that the social development department avoided getting involved in any initiative aimed at helping the victims of the violence, despite being “invited” to help find a solution.
“The violence that wracked the Glebelands Hostel is reported to have produced many victims who required material relief of distress like food parcels and non-material forms of relief like counselling and mobilisation and co-ordination of resources for which the department’s policy on relief of distress makes provision. Sadly, the department woefully failed to fulfil its responsibilities in this regard.”
The department was tasked to establish reasons for its failure to fulfil its responsibilities and to take action against officials found to have been responsible for the omission.
Government bodies cited in the report have 30 days to respond, with progress reports to the public protector.
KZN violence monitor, Mary de Haas, said she had asked for forensic audit of municipal spending on Glebelands, and hoped “this is under way”.
Professor McQuoid-Mason, the official complainant, said on Tuesday morning that he had a cursory look at the recommendations and “it seems reasonable” and he would study it further in order to give his response by October 31, the deadline set by the public protector.
He wants the hostel-dwellers to be able to have a say on the recommendations and would work with his colleagues to try to get their feedback.
The SAPS, metro police, eThekwini Municipality and the Department of Social Development had allowed the situation at Glebelands hostel to escalate, leaving behind a trail of deaths and trauma, outgoing Protector Thuli Madonsela has charged.
Madonsela questioned the accuracy of the death toll provided to her by police during her investigation, the low rate of arrests, and the failure to convict anyone for murder.
She found the SAPS and Metro police had failed to protect and secure the residents of the Glebelands and their property and to uphold and enforce the law as required by the Constitution.
She said the failure by the police constituted improper conduct and maladministration.
“I find the accuracy of the murder statistics that was provided by the police to be questionable. According to the figures furnished by the police, out of 44 murders only 11 arrests were made.
“Regardless of what the correct figures are, it does not detract from the fact that the low ratio of arrests compared to the murders reported is a huge cause for concern.
“It is also concerning that none of the murder suspects have, thus far, been successfully prosecuted in the courts.”
Madonsela recommended that the police commissioner consider the establishment of a satellite police station within the hostel premises and ensure that sufficient numbers of police officers are deployed to do static duties inside the hostel whenever the threat of violence was reported.