Farmer to rebuild houses

Theresia Mamorobela goes through the rubble to salvage what remains of her house.
Theresia Mamorobela goes through the rubble to salvage what remains of her house.

A Limpopo businessman who demolished five farm dwellers' houses in Modjadjiskloof two weeks ago has agreed to rebuild them following protests at his businesses.

Michael Toulou, a Modjadjiskloof property mogul and farmer, had sent earth-moving machines to demolish five houses.

At the time, he said the dwellers did not belong there as he owned the farm.

The houses were owned by the Mamorobela, Maake and Pilusa families who had been staying at the Mokwalakwala farm for more than 100 years.

One of the residents, Theresia Mamorobela, said after two weeks of protesting and shutting down Toulou's businesses, he finally agreed to rebuild their houses.

"He finally agreed to build us new houses on the farm. We have not yet seen the housing plan but as the affected families we agreed on a five-room house per family," she said.

Mamorobela said Toulou's conduct had caused them deep trauma after almost a month without proper homes.

"We have been put under severe pain and humiliation. We are not happy, the businessman disrespected us," she said.

Toulou confirmed to Sowetan yesterday that he had agreed to rebuild the houses but with conditions.

"I'm going to build them houses but they are not allowed to build extra structures or to rent out. I will also build a wall alongside that portion of the farm.

"We met with the families and the mayor to find a solution," he said.

However, the South African Human Rights Commission chairperson in Limpopo, Victor Mavhidula, said despite Toulou agreeing to rebuild those houses they were continuing with their investigations leading up to the destruction.

"Our preliminary investigations have revealed that Toulou and police acted on a false court order.

"There was no court order granted to remove and demolish those houses.

"We've asked the police on why they acted on a false order, because they accompanied the businessman's team to evict the families," he said.

Mavhidula said building the houses was not enough, and Toulou should compensate the families for the trauma and pain he put them through.

Greater Letaba municipality mayor Peter Matlou said after a successful mediation processes, a consensus to rebuild the houses was reached, and the construction will start soon.

"I would like to thank all the parties that assisted in mediation. This milestone will benefit the affected residents and the Greater Letaba municipality at large," Matlou said.

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