Decade of waiting

RESIDENTS of the once-magnificent Masiza Flats at Sebokeng in the Vaal, Gauteng, live in filth, with open sewers, no water and electricity in a building that is falling apart.

Conditions at the building degenerated after a failed eviction attempt by a company that had claimed to have bought the flats in 2001.

Residents fought the sale of the flats and they finally succeeded when the government bought back the building last year.

For more than a decade, the residents have illegally connected electricity. They use the veld to answer the call of nature and if they use their toilets, they flush with water that they fetch from neighbouring residential areas.

Residents said that their spirits were briefly lifted when the then Gauteng local government and housing MEC Humphrey Mmemezi officiated over a sod-turning ceremony promising to develop their area earlier in the year.

But then in July Mmemezi was found guilty of contravening the provincial legislature code of conduct and ethics for using a government credit card.

There were also allegations that the MEC had covered up an accident involving a government vehicle in 2011.

Mmemezi, who resigned after the scandals, was flanked by senior Emfuleni local municipality officials during the event this year as he spoke of a total facelift of the flats.

But since then there has been little action.

Residents say development is at a snail's pace.

Maki Mphaki, 40, says: "Since Mmemezi left office no one cares to complete the projects that he started. After the sod turning we believed we were finally on the road to development, but now it seems we are in for a long wait."

Contacted for comment, Emfuleni local municipality spokesmanKlaas Mofomme said his office was awaiting a report from the local housing officials.

"What I know is that the province has a programme that is supposed to be running," Mofomme said.

His counterpart in the Gauteng provincial housing department, Motsamai Motlhaolwa, has allayed residents fears. He said that the work would go ahead as planned.

"The contractor has been appointed and is busy with water and sewer installations. Once that work has been completed , then refurbishment work will begin," he said.

Motlhaolwa added that his office was trying to get the service provider to supply temporary relocation units where residents could be relocated while the flats were being refurbished.