Sun Oct 23 03:25:00 CAT 2016

'Politicians bicker while we suffer'

By Olebogeng Molatlhwa | Jul 20, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

ABOUT 50 former farm dwellers, who live on an open piece of land owned by the Ekurhuleni municipality, have accused politicians of bickering while they suffer.

The group, consisting mainly of women and children, has been squatting in the open veld at Chief Albert Luthuli Park in Benoni since February after they were kicked out of the various farms they worked on.

The farmowners sold their properties to developers, who built residential complexes and a shopping mall, but construction on these projects has since ground to a halt.

Community spokesperson William Madalane told Sowetan that the ANC-led municipality was making things "difficult" because of its reluctance to cede power to the DA-led ward council which, Madalane said, "had promised to resolve their predicament speedily".

He said: "Whenever two bulls fight it is the grass that suffers. We are the casualties of a political battle between two parties who seem to have forgotten about us. The DA ward council promised to help us but the ANC (municipality) keeps dragging its feet. It's obvious they (ANC) want the ward council to be under their control."

Ekurhuleni municipality spokesperson Zweli Dlamini denied Madalane's claims, saying the matter was not political.

"This is not a political matter but purely an administrative issue. Everyone (the DA ward council and the municipality) is in agreement as to what needs to happen," Dlamini said.

DA ward councillor Benno Robinson agreed with Dlamini and said: "These people are occupying the land illegally. They have to go."

Dlamini said the municipality would appeal against a recent Benoni magistrate's court order preventing the squatters' removal, adding that the council was determined to see the illegal tenants leave the land.

The squatters' legal representative, Clifford Pillay, told Sowetan that Ekurhuleni officials had approached him to discuss an amicable resolution, but Dlamini denied this.

Meanwhile, the Anglican Church in Benoni last week handed out blankets and water to the residents of the small tent settlement.

Dean William Mostert called the squatters' living conditions "deplorable and dehumanising".


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