During a mass meeting on Sunday 29 April at Heide Primary School, Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality Executive Mayor, Olly Mlamleli, has urged disgruntled Heidedal residents to patiently await the verification process for the allocation of land sites.
Mlamleli said this in response to questions about the exact location of available sites that can be occupied by Heidedal community members. The screening process, as described by the Mayor, is designed to determine which individuals are eligible for sites, and is an unavoidable part of allocating sites to people.
In light of this, from 2 May, local government officials will be at the Norman Doubell Hall in Heidedal in order to begin the verification process for residents in the area who are without sites.
Mlamleli’s visit to Heidedal garnered mixed reactions from the community. While residents were happy that Mlamlei had taken the time to visit the area and engage the community on issues affecting them, there was disappointment expressed to her response on the allocation of land sites. Some described what she said as “more empty promises” from the local government.
This comes after residents clashed with police last week over attempted land grabs. The vacant land that was in question during the protest is located on the corner of Paper Street and Witherow Avenue. Mlamleli condemned attempts by residents to occupy private land, saying they simply cannot point to vacant land and assume that it is theirs to occupy, some of the land may be privately owned – as was the case with the land in question.
The mayor’s comments on due processes needing to be followed with regard to site allocations, did nothing to quell some of the frustration experienced by residents, many of them mentioned waiting for years for a place they could call their own.
Community members noted the existence of a list – established in 2014 – of 385 “screened” people who wanted to occupy an area known as Gatvol. To date those people have not been allocated sites. Mlamleli told Voice the establishment of the aforementioned list had occurred before she was appointed mayor of the metro. She said she has requested that the people on the list for Gatvol sites should be sent letters, not SMSs, once the process is complete and they have been assigned sites. Mlamleli confirmed that 385 people have been “verified and approved”.
The mayor told residents there is available land for people who are eligible for bonds and subsidies in Hillside View which has electricity as well as water and sanitation infrastructure, to which some members of the community in the hall yelled “we don’t have money”.
She reiterated that there is no available habitable land in the Heidedal area at present, telling them the municipal land they have suggested as a possible area to occupy, is not habitable. The community made mention of a second area of interest located along the road to Dewetsdorp – an area where a number of informal settlements have popped up over the years.
One of the disgruntled community members is 34-year-old Trudy Mokoena who has been waiting for a site for years, having been screened in her mid-20s. She said she was again screened in 2014, but does not think she has been included in the list of 385 people who are to occupy Gatvol.