Sol Plaatje Municipality taken to task for failure to build houses until Ramaphosa’s intervention
Johannesburg - The Sol Plaatje Local Municipality has been slated for waiting for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s intervention to make land available to build houses for a family of 42 crammed into one dwelling.
The Northern Cape municipality was kicked into action before the ANC’s 108th birthday in Kimberley last year when Ramaphosa publicly reprimanded its mayor Patrick Mabilo and ordered him to do something about the unacceptable situation.
“This is unacceptable by any account. No, no, this can’t happen. The roads are terrible, the roads are very bad,” a visibly disturbed Ramaphosa said at the time.
The president was even more shocked when he was invited by Colville, Kimberley resident Lydia Kok into her residence where “he witnessed the abject inhumane living conditions of her extended family of 42 members comprising the elderly, children and disabled members crammed into her three-roomed dwelling”.
Acting Sol Plaatje municipal manager Boy Dhluwayo said Ramaphosa immediately impressed upon Mabilo to “do something about the situation”.
Johannesburg-based pan-African investment company Afribiz then offered to build houses for the family at no cost to the government.
The municipality later identified sites zoned to develop housing for poor residents to build the six houses for the family and informed the company.
However, the DA objected to the move and approached the high court, claiming the sites had already been allocated after the matter was raised by disgruntled residents.
According to the DA, the decision by the municipality did not comply with the mandatory legal prescripts, unconstitutional and invalid.
The official opposition told the high court that there was no council resolution dealing with the allocation or disposal of the sites.
The DA even demanded written reasons for the decision and when the municipality failed to provide them the party launched an urgent application to interdict the development of the land pending a lawsuit to review and set aside the move but the matter was struck off the roll.
On January 22, Northern Cape High Court Judge Mpho Mamosebo and Acting Judge Avril Mofokeng dismissed the DA’s application to review the municipality’s decision.
The judges were highly critical of the municipality, asking: “Why did it have to take the president of the country and the ANC to kick the municipality into action when the plight of Ms Lydia Kok’s extended family must have been known to them?”
Judges Mamosebo and Mofokeng found that there was no doubt that the municipality was guilty of dereliction of duty.
According to their ruling, the continued failure of local government to deliver services caused ordinary citizens like Kok to pin their hopes on the president.
“This court is aware of the importance of not creating a wrong precedent and the need to ensure that the laws of this country are promoted and upheld … On a conspectus of all the aforementioned considerations, I am of the view that, by allowing the municipality to proceed with the construction, it will restore the families’ right to dignity, to decent shelter and for their improved well-being,” reads the judgment.
DA Sol Plaatje caucus leader Chris Phiri did not respond to Independent Media’s questions yesterday on whether the party would appeal the judgment.