The tortured township of Khutsong could face a geological disaster as more than 25000 households are built on ground not suitable for human settlement.
"The geological condition in Khutsong warrants urgent intervention to avert a potential disaster," Merafong municipal spokesman Seabo Gaeganelwe warned yesterday.
He said the situation had all the hallmarks of a looming national disaster, with residents at risk of losing their lives amid widespread property devastation.
"To many here the tragic incident in the 1960s when 37 miners and a family of five disappeared into a sinkhole in Carletonville is a reality likely to recur," Gaeganelwe said.
A 1997 survey commissioned by the Merafong municipality found that 90percent of Khutsong fell within "extremely high risk" zones.
This meant most of the town "is not and never was suitable for human settlement", added Gaeganelwe.
He said about 3600 formal households, 15000 informal and 6500 "backyard" households had to be relocated.
The total cost of this resettlement had been estimated in at R1,5billion in 2004, but that cost had shot up by 50percent to R2,2billion at current values.
A five-year resettlement plan had been drawn up and submitted to government in 2003, he said. - Sapa