Jika Joe residents force council’s hand

2008-09-21 00:00

The Msunduzi Municipality was yesterday forced to allocate the municipal houses intended for flood victims at the Jika Joe settlement two weeks earlier than expected. This came after furious flood victims forced their way into the site, threatening to break the locks and move in.

The residents decided to invade the houses after the tents they had inhabited for the past six months — since their shacks were washed away by floods earlier this year — were flooded again this weekend.

Sixty families have been living in the tents set up near Ash Road since the beginning of the year.

Prompted by the suffering they endured over the weekend, they decided to force the municipality to allocate the houses to them. They said they felt they had been living in tents for far too long, which they said was not a conducive environment.

“All we want is a decent place to sleep as living in the tents is not ideal” said Bonginkosi Khumalo, spokesman for the Enhlanganweni organisation, which represents the people of the settlement, when The Witness visited the area.

“We had been promised that we will move into the houses last month. That was postponed without any valid reason and now we are being told we have to wait another two weeks. However, we don’t have two weeks, as there are people with small children living in the freezing tents.”

The residents also accused the municipality and the ward councillor of ignoring their pleas and of “extortion”. They described the municipality’s demand that they pay R50 in rent for the houses as “extortionate”. The R50 has to be paid before the houses can be occupied.

Peter Green, the councillor for Ward 33, confirmed that the houses were allocated yesterday.

However, he denied that the council has ignored the community pleas.

Green added that the R50 rental is a legitimate charge levied to cover expenses.

“These are municipal houses, not government ones. The R50 is a charge for the use of municipal property,” said Green.

thamsanqam@witness.co.za

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