Johannesburg - A shocking R27 million was wasted by the City of Ekurhuleni when 565 shacks built for informal settlers were dismantled and stolen after the intended recipients refused to occupy them. Only the foundations remain.
The expensive project went ahead despite residents in the Angelo informal settlements having refused to be relocated.
Among their concerns was that the shacks had been built around open mineshafts and sinkholes.
The metro has now launched an internal investigation into the matter, following complaints lodged by the DA and EFF in the council.
An expenditure breakdown indicates that the metro spent R34200 (excluding VAT) on each 40 square metre structure, including a 100mm-thick concrete slab, aluminium frames, corrugated iron roof, the inside sheeting and two windows.
An additional R5.5m was spent on the Red Ants to guard the informal housing project after residents from another informal settlement tried to invade the unoccupied units.
The Red Ants left the site after their contract was terminated by the metro. The metro spent about R5.5m - R82 000 per day - in the 62 days that the Red Ants were on site.
City of Ekurhuleni spokesperson Themba Gadebe confirmed that the project went ahead despite a DA councillor warning last year that the land was unsuitable for human habitation.
“A debate on the suitability of the land to house people was defeated in the council on the basis that geo-technical reports showed that only parts of the land were unsuitable and not the whole area as argued, especially where the structures were erected,” Gadebe said.
The relocation proposal came in the wake of the owners of the land on which the Angelo informal settlement stands being granted an interdict to relocate the residents. The court ordered the metro to find alternative accommodation for the residents.
Gadebe said after the temporary structures were erected, the city started a process of issuing allocation notices to the beneficiaries.
“But the process was halted when the business owners in the vicinity were granted a court order prohibiting the metro from proceeding with the relocations,” he said.
“The city is seriously concerned about this matter and has launched an investigation. We are confident that it will help us determine if there was any wrongdoing,” he added.
Residents from a nearby informal settlement said the abandoned shacks were raided by unknown people who removed doors, windows, corrugated iron sheets and metal frames. Only six metal-framed structures were still standing when The Star visited the area this week.
“It started during the Easter weekend. They came here with trolleys and bakkies and helped themselves to the structures.
“Day and night they were here. And as you can see, there is nothing left. We tried to stop them but they threatened us, saying we must keep our mouths shut as this was a government project,” said Zimise Zulu, a nearby resident.
Charlie Tladi, a community leader at the Angelo informal settlement, said the residents refused to move into the new shacks because they were not consulted about their relocation.
“We would have told them that we can’t move from one shack to another. We can’t do that. In any case, that land is dangerous. There are old mineshafts,” he said.
Coleman Morena, a community leader at the Makause informal settlement, said residents in the area had tried to occupy the empty structures but were violently evicted by the Red Ants.
Gadebe said the contract with the Red Ants was terminated due to budgetary constraints.
The DA and EFF called for an investigation by the municipal public accounts committee.
DA councillor Ashley Woods said the project was doomed from the start. “Beneficiaries from the Tambo informal settlement vehemently opposed the relocation.”
The EFF’s Mampuru Mampuru questioned the logic of building 565 temporary structures “at the cost of building a permanent RDP house for our people”.