Polokwane - Offices belonging to the Polokwane municipality were petrol bombed on Wednesday morning after the council disconnected electricity to residents who had been defaulting on their payments.
The municipality executive mayor Councillor Thembi Nkadimeng said the incident happened after residents revolted against the local housing rental body.
Furniture and computers were incinerated at the wooden office at the Ga-Rena rental village.
The village is on R35 million worth land featuring 501 residential units designed for low-income earners who don't qualify for a bond or RDP housing.
Nkadimeng said they were not deterred by the arson attacks, and said her municipality would continue to disconnect the water and electricity of defaulting residents.
“We are not doing this out of air, and we had requests and demands that we made. There is no way where people will say we want a free house which is not meant to be a free house, we want free electricity, we want free water, when you owe the house allocated to you,” she said.
Nkadimeng said if the municipality accepted the occupants' demands not to pay for electricity and water, it would not make sense to continue collecting revenue from other residents.
“It's not right.”
She said the proposal by occupants to buy the units from government had collapsed due to lack of funds.
“There was a proposal to buy, but those are government houses and are meant for interim measures as you measure yourself, that is why the bracket says nobody (who earns above) R3 500 should occupy [the houses],” she said.
Currently residents are paying R800 per month to the Polokwane Housing Association. The municipality expressed its concern that some beneficiaries had turned the units into business properties.
“They are not paying that R800, instead they are collecting R3 000, and I must just smile because they are going to burn the office. I think we should...talk,” said Nkadimeng.
Limpopo police spokesman Mohlaka Mashiane said they were investigating a case of arson and malicious damage to property. “What happened is there was squabbles between Polokwane municipality officials and some residents, as the fight continued the office was set ablaze,” said Mashiane.
Forensic experts were at the scene on Wednesday afternoon, combing through the debris to ascertain the cause of the fire. The cost of the damage has not yet been confirmed and no arrests have been made.
African News Agency
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