‘Persuasion’ over forceful evictions a priority

2011-09-16 10:32

The Gauteng government will prioritise “persuasion” over forceful evictions to relocate residents of Thembelihle to newly-developed housing units in Lehae and Vlakfontein.

Speaking to the media at Westonaria where journalists were briefed about the implications of building houses on areas with unstable dolomitic rock yesterday, Humphrey Mmemezi, MEC for local government and housing stressed that the relocation of Thembelihle residents was for their own safety.

“We have an option of using Red Ants to move them but would first consider persuading those that are remaining to allow us to relocate them,” Mmemezi said.

He said they have an understanding with the community and would work against “fake leaders and criminal elements” who influence them against moving.

“What type of leader would influence the community to burn property?” he asked.

“We can’t have a country of hooligans. This is a democratic country.”

Mmemezi said violence, destruction and people stopping children from going to school won’t be tolerated and the law will take its course.

“The area of Thembelihle is situated entirely on bad dolomite and residents are not safe there as the surface tends to be unstable resulting in sink holes,” Memezi said.

An audit of Thembelihle informal settlement found that there were about 6 775 shacks in the area.

“About 25% of the entire Gauteng province had dolomite rock which makes it difficult to build structures on,” engineering geologist Greg Heath said.

Heath said dolomitic areas are categorised from D1 to D8, with D1 and D2 considered to be good dolomite, which may be built on while D3 and D4 were bad and posed a greater danger of structures sinking in if developed.

He said it required an intensive geological investigation to establish which category a dolomitic area falls in and that the tests were expensive.

Mmemezi said according to the geological surveys conducted, Thembelihle was categorised D3 and D4 while Lenasia close by, was not built on dolomite.

He said the evacuated residents from Thembelihle are being relocated to Lehae and Vlakfontein where bulk infrastructure services are provided.

“Lehae phase 1 and 2 provide 6 000 units (3 000 each) and we are now putting up Lehae phase 3.”

“We are busy with geo-technical investigations on a bigger area that can cater for an additional 7 000 units in phase 3,” Memezi said.

He said Vlakfontein will accommodate an extra 3 000 units.

Mmemezi said the developments were not for Thembelihle residents only but for other informal settlements in Gauteng.

The South Gauteng High Court authorised the relocation of Thembelihle in 2009.

Meanwhile, Bhayiza Miya, community leader in Thembelihle was arrested on Tuesday on charges of intimidation.

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