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'We'll take over empty houses'

By unknown | Apr 09, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Michael Sakuneka

About 180 illegal squatters living at an informal settlement near the Talana Hostel in Tzaneen have threatened to occupy empty houses in Mokgolobotho village if the local municipality does not give them priority to the houses.

The squatters have accused the Greater Tzaneen municipality of giving preference to people who already have proper accommodation instead of the poor.

They said their ordeal started after their shacks were burnt down in a fire which broke out in the settlement more than a year ago.

A squatter who wanted to remain anonymous said earlier that the municipality had promised that it would allocate houses to them, "but now it seems things have changed".

He said the municipality was failing to meet with them to clarify its position.

The construction of at least 540 housing units has been completed. The only thing left is for provincial local government and housing MEC Maite Nkoana-Mashabane to officially hand over the houses to the beneficiaries in Mokgolobotho.

"How could the department hand over the houses to people while we are still left out without being considered?" asked the affected squatter.

Most of the squatters are now living out in the open while others have defied the Tzaneen council and rebuilt their shacks in the area.

However, some of them have threatened to boycott the coming general elections if they still find themselves living in plastic shacks next to a river.

Meanwhile, the municipality's head of the housing unit, Handswell Phakula, said they only have 100 beneficiaries from the settlement who would be allocated houses at Mokgolobotho.

He said some of the squatters did not qualify because they already have RDP houses.

"There are procedures followed when allocating houses to the beneficiaries, and the squatters have to understand that," he said.


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