‘Let us stay’

Committee members speaking for the occupants, from left: Nthabiseng Mosaola, David Masiu, Lerato Motlogela, Pakiso Sello, Themba Mnguni and Mapaseka Seekoi. PHOTO: PIERCE VAN HEERDEN

Three weeks ago residents of an informal settlement in Phase 6, Masakeng, noticed a few people erecting shacks is an area where the municipality had already penned sites. They then decided to move into these sites as well. However, the municipality has issued them with an eviction notice stating that they are hindering it from delivering services in the area.

The municipality has served the illegal land occupants with a notice on Saturday stating that they had 24 hours to move, but it is yet to be implemented.
Resident Pakiso Sello said he has been renting for 20 years. “I gave the house I was living in to my parents when they moved from the farm where they used to live.

I have three children and I want to leave them with a home should I die,” he said.
Another resident, David Masiu, said they had now made a home for themselves. “We are here now, and we have made homes for ourselves here. All we ask is that those involved come to a solution so that we can just stay here.

Yes, we were wrong to just move in, but we did not know who was going to live here and now that we are here, they should just let us be, because we really need a place to stay.”
Themba Mnguni added that they are refusing to move. “They said that this area has already been allocated to others, but there is another area nearby which is unoccupied; they can take those people there.

Illegal land occupants in Phase 6 are pleading with the municipality to let them stay on the land they have been occupying for three weeks, regardless of the fact that the municipality has said the occupants are hindering its ability to deliver services there. PHOTO: PIERCE VAN HEERDEN

We have already put up our shacks and now they want us to break them down again.”
Lerato Motlogela said that the ward councillor has been avoiding them. “Some people have claimed to have paid the councillor between 7 and 15 thousand rand to get sites, but we never knew about this option.”

Ward 46 councillor, Moferefere Joseph Ramabolu, said that the illegal land occupants are hindering the development of the area. “I have had countless meetings with these residents. We’ve been pleading with them to move since there were only four shacks here, and they would agree with us, but once we leave they are advised by those calling themselves ‘community leaders’ to stay.”

He added that regarding allegations of people paying for sites he has asked those people who allege he was paid to come forward during community meetings and no one has come forward as yet. “Some of these people already have RDPs, and now they want these sites for their children. We can’t have one person receiving four sites from the government, while others have nothing. The process for housing in the municipality is an open one, but these people do not want to go register at the offices, because they have already received homes.”

“We were planning on putting in electricity in this area starting in August, but this has caused us to halt that development because we are now dealing with these legal matters,” concluded Ramabolu.

Seithati Semenokane