The shell of a torched bus blocks a busy intersection leading into the Brazzaville informal settlement near Pretoria. Picture: Jonisayi Maromo/ANA

Tshwane - Violence and destruction of property will not pressurise the Tshwane municipality to act in line with wishes of backroom dwellers who are demanding serviced stands in Atteridgeville, west of Pretoria, Tshwane Housing MMC Mandla Nkomo said on Wednesday.

"I am not pressurised by people burning things, to do wrong things. I have told them in the meeting that I will not condone this in the future. If they want to discuss with us constructively, they must refrain from burning and demolishing property. They are communicating with us in bad faith," Nkomo spoke to journalists as he emerged from a lengthy meeting with a group representing backroom dwellers of Atteridgeville.

The backroom dwellers allege that Tshwane is wrongly prioritising allocation of serviced stands and RDP houses to people from mushrooming informal settlements, particularly Brazzaville, excluding the bona fide residents of Atteridgeville and Lotus Gardens who are renting or staying on family properties.

Nkomo, however, said Tshwane is relocating residents of Brazzaville, in line with a council resolution, to eradicate informal settlements in the capital city.

"There is a council resolution from the previous administration which says we must relocate people from Brazzaville. The problem now is that, it was a council resolution and this region has to comply with that. Unfortunately, the residents of Atteridgeville are complaining that they have been overlooked for a number of years and they want to be included in that particular relocation," said Nkomo.

He said unfortunately, the backroom dwellers cannot be part of the first phase of the current relocation, but they will be included in the second phase.

A representative of the backroom dwellers, Rey Henning was having none of it.

"These informal settlements only came a few years ago. The people of Atteridgeville and Lotus Gardens have been staying here since 1935. We were not informed about this relocation. Now we don't know who to blame - maybe it's the government or the councillors. They say they are going to continue with the relocation. We are saying they should at least accommodate the people of Atteridgeville and Lotus Gardens as well," said Henning.

"Yesterday, we were not protesting. We were actually provoked by the gunshots of the metro police. They started shooting at us. While they were shooting at us, the buses were torched on the other side. Now they are claiming that we were part and parcel of those things [the torching of the buses]. We want to distance ourselves from the torching of the buses and whatever mischief which happened."

He said the deadlock in the meeting with Nkomo would now be reported to the community members before a way forward is decided on. 

Earlier, Tshwane Metro Police Department spokesperson Isaac Mahamba said the municipality had cracked down on a group which had attempted to illegally occupy RDP houses.

“Following scenes of aggression by a clique in Brazzaville, Pretoria West, the TMPD had to move swiftly to crack down on the group that wanted to illegally occupy RDP houses last night, July 11, 2017. The TMPD received reports of a group behaving in a disruptive and disorderly manner in the community of Brazzaville and responded accordingly. Upon reaching the scene, the unruly group had already torched two buses,” said Mahamba.

“The city expresses complete disapproval of the actions by this deviant group that has now robbed the community of transportation service. In addition, actions of anarchy will not be tolerated as the targeted houses are meant for beneficiaries that qualify and had applied for them.”

He said members of the TMPD and SAPS had been deployed onsite to maintain stability in the area and to “ensure order prevails in Brazzaville”.

No injuries have been reported and no arrests made.

Mahamba appealed to community members to “report the instigators of this illegal protest and occupation of the RDP houses to the police”.