Residents in Bekkersdal ‘land grab’ blame whites

2014-01-22 18:23

Vacant land in Bekkersdal on the West Rand was stolen by whites, says the Greater Westonaria Concerned Residents’ Association.

“We are not apologetic for occupying the land. We believe it belongs to us. It was stolen by the whites,” spokesman Mbulelo Koyana said today.

He said that government had failed to provide residents with houses.

“When people voted in 1994, they never knew they would be powerless when they were in power,” Koyana said.

Yesterday, more than 1 000 residents reportedly carried shovels and picks on to the land, which is owned by mining company Rand Uranium, to erect dwellings.

Earlier today, The Citizen reported that the Westonaria municipality and Rand Uranium were applying for a court interdict to stop residents from illegally occupying the vacant land.

In court papers, the municipality had reportedly said it was not in a financial position to “take on the burden” of providing services for which it had not planned or budgeted.

According to the newspaper, the municipality said the area had been rezoned for agricultural purposes and was geologically unstable and prone to sinkholes.

The case will be heard in the South Gauteng High Court on Monday.

Community leader Thabang Wesi reportedly said he had received court papers on Tuesday but had not responded to them yet.

“Our legal team is working on that matter,” he said.

Last year, violent protests broke out in the area and lasted for more than a month as residents demanded the removal of mayor Nonkoliso Tundzi. They accused her of maladministration and nepotism.

Resident Fezile Momoza said today that unemployment was high in the Bekkersdal area. The only development since 1994 was a community hall.

“If government had listened to us, we wouldn’t have grabbed the land. The municipality does not care about our concerns.”

He said the residents wanted councillors guilty of corruption to be suspended.

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