Schubart Park calm

2011-09-23 12:43

Schubart Park flat residents were calm this morning as Tshwane officials began registering some of them for relocation to a township.

Tshwane Metro spokesperson Pieter de Necker said people were being allowed to go in and fetch their belongings, under the watchful eye of police.

“Many of them are not South Africans and have very few belongings, so they mostly want to retrieve their documents,” said De Necker.

“Other people had furniture and other belongings which will be kept at storage.”

Residents of Schubart Park were due to be relocated to Atteridgeville, west of Pretoria, because the buildings had been declared unsafe. A group of residents protested on Wednesday, saying they had had no water or electricity for two weeks.

Tyres were burnt inside the building, residents threw bricks and bottles onto the streets and a mobile toilet and car parked outside were set alight.

An urgent interdict to prevent the municipality from evicting residents from the flats in central Pretoria was dismissed last night.

In his ruling in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, Judge Bill Prinsloo said people were not being evicted, but evacuated for their own safety.

Prinsloo instructed the municipality and the Schubart Park residents’ association to draft an order on how the residents could be accommodated, and when they could return to their homes pending renovations to the buildings.

They would have to provide the court with the draft by 3pm today.

A registration desk had been set up outside Schubart Park flats for people who wanted alternative accommodation.

De Necker said women with children were being given priority. Many of the residents did not want to register for alternative accommodation, saying they could stay with relatives for the time being.

“Most of those who came to register as required are South African citizens ... many of those who refuse are illegal immigrants and are scared they might be deported,” De Necker said.

He was hopeful most of the people would be moved to the Atteridgeville suburb of Saulsville by the end of the day. A meeting was scheduled with residents in the area for 5pm, where they would be briefed on plans.

Roads around the flats were closed as the evacuation continued. Gauteng police spokesperson Captain Pinky Tsinyane said the situation was calm overnight.

Schubart Park has been the scene of violent protests before. In July 2008, four adults and a toddler died in a fire at the neighbouring Kruger Park flats. The blaze was started in protest against evictions from Schubart Park by a private security company.

In November 2008, the municipality announced it would renovate the flats.

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