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MEC forced to transfer council land

By Bongani Nkosi | 2017-07-15 07:58:24.0

A violent protest has forced Gauteng MEC for human settlements Paul Mashatile to transfer land immediately to Gomorrah - an informal settlement west of Pretoria.

In a bid to quell unrest that erupted at Gomorrah yesterday, Mashatile dispatched his chief director for water and sanitation, Joshua Ngonyama, to the sprawling squatter camp.

The protest for proper services spilled over to neighbouring areas and busy roads were blocked. Roads in old suburbs such as Daspoort and Kirkney were blocked with rocks and burning tyres.

A crowd broke into a privately-owned car parts centre in Daspoort and burnt four cars. One of the cars was pushed out on to the street and set alight.

Police tried to disperse the angry crowd, but only managed to push them back to Gomorrah where they set fire to a nursery owned by the City of Tshwane.

The nursery's office block was torched and several cars, including a rented truck, were also set on fire.

Gomorrah started developing about 12 years ago and currently has 8000 shacks. The settlement has no water, electricity, sanitation and proper roads.

Ngonyama promised residents that their problems would soon be over. He said the provincial government would now transfer the land in which the community's shacks stood, to the Tshwane metro. Gauteng bought the land from a private owner for more than R100-million two years ago, he said.

"The transfer has taken time," Ngonyama said. "What's important is that MEC Mashatile bought this land for you. The power of attorney will be done by today (yesterday). It will be given to MMC [for housing in Tshwane, Mandla] Nkomo. Nkomo will bring it to you."

Gomorrah residents said they had heard promises before, but Ngonyama maintained he was telling the truth.

"[The message about] the power of attorney is not a lie. It's an instruction I got from MEC Mashatile, it would be done by today. We bought the land.

"That promise was done and delivered ... that's service delivery by Gauteng. As [the provincial] government we've done what we could. Now what remains is water, electricity, houses and proper roads."

Resident Gloryn Thibane, who was injured by a police rubber bullet to her arm, warned false promises would cause more violence.

Community leader William Maila said "the protests would continue if Ngonyama was lying. Tomorrow we're going to Nkomo with a view of ascertaining if someone is lying".