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'We've waited for houses for 18 years'

By Boitumelo Tshehle | 2012-01-30 08:12:28.0

Squatter camp springs up overnight

RESIDENTS of Ikageleng township near Zeerust became so frustrated at waiting for RDP houses that they decided to build an informal settlement over the weekend.

On Saturday morning a group of more than 500 people took their handsaws, hammers, spirit levels and shovels and started to build shacks on an open area just across from the township.

The move means that they will have to live amid stinking garbage and raw sewage.

The residents say they have waited since 1994 for the North West department of human settlements and the Ramotshere Moiloa local municipality to build RDP houses for them.

The government has not even allocated stands for them to build their own houses.

To date most of them are cramped in small houses that they share with their grandparents and grandchildren.

The township lacks basic services and the smell caused by overflowing sewerage pipes and piles of rubbish is overpowering. Children play freely next to the garbage.

Ikageleng Development Forum chairman Obakeng Moseki said Ramotshere Moiloa mayor Afrika Thale had let them down.

"We are forcibly occupying this land because our mayor is a liar. He promised us houses, now he says there is not enough land.

"What is this?" asked Moseki, pointing at the land the squatters are now occupying.

He accused Thale of ignoring the plight of Ikageleng residents and turning a blind eye to their grievances.

Moseki said the shack dwellers were disillusioned with politics and had lost faith in their one-time champions, the ANC, to give them homes.

One shack resident, Mompati Ntheledi, 41, said: "We elected them but once they are in power they forget about our interests.

"These people are turning the ANC into a source of income, they are provoking us."

Most of the shack residents interviewed said they were not going to vote anymore because the prospect of ever owning their own homes slipped further away after each election.

Mayor Thale said the squatters face eviction because they were occupied municipal land illegally.

He warned that the council would demolish those shacks.

"We will move in any time now and pull the structures down," he said.

Thale said Ikageleng residents were selfish.

"I called a meeting with these people and we agreed that I would build 200 houses. Now they have decided to overtake the plan.

"I am waiting for the department to allocate houses to beneficiaries, then the municipality will start with the building process," Thale said.