Premier David Makhura visits the Mamelodi Regional Mall site, which has been plagued by feuds between the developers and local traders. Picture: Bongani Shilulbane/ANA
Pretoria - The R1.3billion state-of-the-art Mamelodi Regional Mall project could be halted within the next two weeks if the ongoing feud between developers and local traders is not defused.

At the centre of the dispute is the refusal by some traders to relocate from the land on which developers want to built part of the mall.

And if they continue to refuse to comply, the developers say they will have to shed 500 jobs in two weeks’ time.

The traders have constantly refused to make way for the project despite a court order obtained by developers in February instructing them to do so. The tug-of-war between two parties was discovered by Premier David Makhura on Thursday during a visit to the site.

Accompanied by his team of MECs, Makhura was in the township as part of the Ntirhisano outreach programme, assessing progress on projects rolled out by the provincial government.

Project head Shadrack Mthethwa told Makhura that informal traders had refused to allow developers to carry out work where they were legally allowed to operate.

He warned that the ongoing fight between the two parties was terrible and could bring the project to its knees if not resolved within two weeks.

He said traders had defied the court interdict for them to vacate the land.

The traders had even ignored their lawyers, who had explained to them the legal implications of not complying with the court order.

Despite this, they still refused to leave, Mthethwa said.

“The worst thing is that we can’t even work where we are allowed to work by law.

“It is criminal because they pelt our workers with stones. Our contractors don’t even want to go and work there,” he said.

He pleaded with Makhura to intervene speedily. “If in the next two weeks we don’t get access to that site, we have to shed 500 jobs immediately.

“How do we then go back to the community to say we have off-loaded the people because the project has come to a standstill?”

The project had so far lost in the region of R34 to R41million.

“We are eight months behind schedule already. We were meant to open in October; but even October next year is unlikely,” he said.

Mthethwa said the informal traders did not want to relocate even after they had been served with a court order to “relocate and not disturb us where we are supposed to work”.

He blamed the City for failing to enforce the court interdict by evicting the traders.

“It is not for us to enforce the court order. That is the prerogative of the City because it is the custodian of the land.

“They enforce the by-laws, not us,” he said.

Makhura said the problem rested with people in the communities under the banner of a business forum.

“They go and disrupt projects because they want to impose themselves,” he said.

He promised to put up a team that would meet the disgruntled traders.

“I am told that some of those traders are not South Africans; they are foreign nationals,” Makhura said.

Fortunately, the taxi industry was working very well with the developers of the mall, he said.

“The complaint by the developers is that they have gone to the City for help many times and the city is not helping.

“Where are the metro police? My view is that the City must enforce the court order to evict them.”

The MMC for Agriculture and Environmental Management, Mike Mkhari, said the City was aware of the tension at the construction site.

He said he had suggested a meeting with all stakeholders to address the problem.

However, Mkhari rejected claims that the onus to enforce the court order rested with the metro police, saying SAPS officers also ought to have come on board.

Makhura also visited Nellmapius Extension 21 and 24, where he handed over 150 houses to beneficiaries.

However, he expressed disappointment about land invasion in some areas.

“I went to areas where there were no shacks in 2015, but today there are an additional number of shacks that have been built.”

Regarding the abandoned city-owned Reiteretse Car Wash, Makhura said: “There was a storm that damaged the car wash.

“The source of the problem is the storm. And because it is owned essentially by the municipality, it was very reluctant to fix it.”

He said the province would be able to fix the damage caused to the facility.

“I am disappointed that the municipality is not providing the kind of support here in Mamelodi that they are supposed to,” he said.

He said Economic Development MEC Lebogang Maile would meet the operators of the car wash.

Pretoria News