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Pomfret is going to the dogs - DA

By unknown | Mar 18, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Elisha Molefe

Elisha Molefe

Pomfret, a town in North West about 18km north of Vryburg, and once a thriving South African Defence Force army base, is slowly "going to the dogs" claims the DA.

The Public Works Department allegedly demolished more than 30 houses minutes after the owners were moved to Mafikeng.

Pomfret's residents were recruited by the apartheid government's notorious 32 Battalion from former combatants in Angola's civil war. They made a name for themselves as expert trackers and as a counter-insurgency unit.

After South Africa pulled out of Angola and Namibia declared its independence, members of the unit were used to quell so-called faction fighting between the ANC and the IFP in Johannesburg's and KwaZulu-Natal's townships in the early 1990s.

The unit was disbanded in 1993 and the former soldiers were settled in Pomfret, where the community was left to fend for itself. Many still do what they know best - work in the security industry.

The DA in North West says the ANC-led provincial government is "obsessed with getting rid of their former enemies" from Pomfret.

North West DA leader Chris Hattingh said the Public Works Department allocated R115million for maintenance and improvement of Pomfret this financial year but the work was stopped soon after it began.

Hattingh said the people of Pomfret have been persecuted since after the 1994 elections, apparently because of 32 Battalion's successes in the apartheid regime's wars against liberation fighters in Namibia and Angola.

"Former North West MEC for local government and housing Frans Vilakazi said in the provincial legislature that the people of Pomfret were a problem in the past, remain a problem in the present and will be a problem in the future," he said.

Department of Labour spokesman Lucky Mochalibane denied that the government wanted to destroy Pomfret because it was seen as a "cesspool of mercenary activity".

"After the departure of the defence force from the base in the mid-90s ex-members of the force and their families were left behind," Mochalibane said. "Since then protracted negotiations had been entered into to find alternative accommodation for them."

He said certain groups had resisted relocation and had threatened the department with legal action.

The DA said it would continue to support the people of Pomfret against statutory abuse by state agencies and would report abuses to the Human Rights Commission.

Hattingh said his party was calling for an investigation into the plight of the residents of Pomfret.


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