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'We will take their land'

Residents affected by flooding seek refuge at the Mamelodi Baptist Church, east of Pretoria.
Residents affected by flooding seek refuge at the Mamelodi Baptist Church, east of Pretoria.
Image: Alaister Russell

Community members in Mamelodi, east of Pretoria, have threatened to invade land that would be made available for hundreds of displaced flood victims who are temporarily housed in churches.

The Mamelodi Concerned Residents for Service Delivery has accused the Gauteng government of rushing to offer displaced victims of floods land while thousands of locals have been waiting for houses for years without help.

Their anger was fuelled by an announcement that vacant stands in well-located land would be made available to the victims of last year's floods.

Oupa Mtshweni, the leader of the Mamelodi Concerned Residents for Service Delivery, said there were people who have been on the housing waiting list since the 1990s but government was choosing not to prioritise them.

He said these people were waiting for what was known as RDP houses or even stands to build for themselves as government was taking forever to deliver houses.

More than 700 shacks in Mamelodi's Eerstefabriek informal settlement were destroyed by heavy rains, leaving more than 1,000 people homeless. Some of them have been living in churches.

Mtsweni said the promise made by the Gauteng government to flood victims has made their members angry, with some among them planning to invade the new stands that would be made available.

Thulani Ndlovu, one of the displaced flood victims, said: "We don't want to be involved in any fight for land, we really hope it wouldn't come to that."

Resident Alicia Mabuza said: "I expect a piece of land. I'm going to build my shack there and no one will move me, I have been waiting for RDP house for 15 years now."

Gauteng premier David Makhura's spokesperson Vuyo Mhaga said: "We are not trying to cause conflicts in Mamelodi by giving people stands, but we are moving them to a safer place."

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