5 freed, but no end to RDP row
Five residents from the Silahliwe informal settlement, east of Mamelodi, who were arrested at the weekend, have been released with a warning.
The residents were part of a group that tried illegally to occupy RDP houses in the area on Saturday. Police were called in after the residents allegedly damaged some of the houses.
The residents face charges of public violence and malicious damage to property.
They were expected to appear in the Mamelodi Magistrate’s Court on Monday, but were released by the police before being brought to court. They are expected to appear in court on July 20.
One house was burnt by the protesters and 69 were damaged.
Community leader Anna Mangwane said residents were “sick and tired” of the promises made by some councillors and council officials about the allocation of the RDP homes.
Mangwane said RDP houses had been occupied “by strangers”.
According to Mangwane, residents were moved from Pienaarspoort South to Silahliwe in 1998 with promises that they would be relocated to Mamelodi East Ext 18, where they would be allocated permanent stands.
“There are people who have never squatted and they are occupying the houses that don’t even belong to them,” Manganye said.
She said residents sent memorandums to the Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Sicelo Shiceka, in May last year and to President Jacob Zuma in November. A memorandum was also sent to the Tshwane Metro Council.
“We are still waiting for the responses,” said Mangwane.
In the memorandum to Shiceka, the residents said that the area had been in existence since 1997, “long before the City of Tshwane was established”.
“Elections after elections have come and gone, councillors after councillors have made promises, but none have materialised,” the memorandum said.
“The (member of the mayoral committee) for housing and the (Gauteng) MEC (for housing) don’t want to tell us about our informal settlement status.
“The land mafias, councillors and ward committee members allocate and sell land with impunity without any deterrent or fear.”
In the memorandum to Zuma, the residents said some of them had been squatting for 16 years, and that a number of them were old and could no longer walk long distances.
They said their area did not have proper roads, and the people who were occupying the RDP houses were foreigners.
Ward councillors from the area met residents on Monday to discuss the matter.
According to Joel Masilela, secretary of the ward committee, the crowd did not understand the processes that had to be followed in allocating houses.
“The mob is from an informal settlement and was moved from here when the construction began,” he said.
“It appears they were not told that they will be allocated houses only if they meet the requirements.”
Masilela said 89 houses had been built and 24 had been allocated to people, but this did not go down well with the people who used to live in the informal settlement.
Certain residents told the people who were allocated houses that they were occupying houses that did not belong to them.
“Out of the people who were removed the squatter camp, only two people qualified for RDP houses,” said Masilela.
“Others were allocated houses in Nelmapius.
“We explained that not everybody can get a house.”
Masilela said that the allocation process had been stopped until all the problems in the area had been sorted out. - Pretoria News