The blame game's turning just as ugly as the housing protests
Tshwane MMC says Gauteng MEC should accept full responsibility for housing riot. The MEC begs to differ
A violent housing protest that brought the City of Tshwane to a standstill last week has strained neighbourly relations between the provincial department of human settlements and its counterpart in the Joburg Metro.
After disgruntled community members of Olievenhoutbosch decided to take to the streets after being evicted from RDP houses last Friday, Mandla Nkomo, Tshwane MMC for human settlements, added fuel by hitting out at province.
In a statement, he said Gauteng human settlements MEC Uhuru Moila should accept full responsibility for the protest.
“Province’s poor management of this debacle has left hundreds of families without shelter, and the ensuing violence and lawlessness has caused major damage to critical infrastructure, the effects of which will be borne by Tshwane’s residents,” he said.The protest saw the city of Tshwane, businesses and schools being brought to a standstill. The protesting crowd barricaded the R55 road with burning tyres and stones, which ultimately led to heavy traffic delays and temporary road closures. The protest also led to two vehicles being set alight.
The decision to evict the occupants was made after an eviction order was obtained by the Gauteng human settlements department.
According to Nkomo, the cause of the protests was this eviction order to remove illegal occupiers of RDP housing units in Olievenhoutbosch Extension 27.
“The order was granted after more than 800 incomplete units were unlawfully invaded last year. In December 2017 Gauteng Human Settlements applied for an interim eviction order, which was eventually granted in May 2018, but the community applied to the court to have it suspended. This application was dismissed by the North Gauteng High Court this past Monday, allowing the provincial department to go ahead with evictions.”However, Nkomo was against this decision and subsequently released the statement to voice his discontent.
Moila then hit back, also in a statement, describing Nkomo’s remarks as “reckless and unnecessary”.
“As leaders in society we should lead by example and always seek to take our nation forward, and not be power-hungry chameleons,” he said.
He said that deserving and qualifying RDP beneficiaries will be allocated to the houses in due course.
Nkomo argued that the community had lost trust in the provincial government.
“The root cause of the dissatisfaction and mistrust by the community is the contradictory undertakings that were made by the previous administration and Gauteng human settlements with regards to allocation of these houses,” said Nkomo.
Moila said his department will not condone any illegal actions and, particularly, “actions that derail the plans of government to improve the lives of qualifying and deserving beneficiaries”.