MEC condemns Gauteng housing violence
Johannesburg - The Gauteng housing department will not be intimidated into giving RDP houses to people who do not qualify for them, MEC Humphrey Mmemezi said on Friday.
"We are not going to allow anyone to manipulate the process of allocation, including the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA)," he told residents in Tshepong, in the Vaal, after a councillor's house was burnt down in the area on Friday morning, allegedly by people removed from RDP houses they had been illegally occupying.
"We as government are not going to give in when people use violence to raise their concerns," Mmemezi was quoted as saying in a statement issued by his office.
In December the housing department obtained a court order to evict all the illegal occupants, including MKMVA members, from the RDP houses in the area.
He sympathised with the councillor whose house was burnt down.
"It is a huge challenge to be a councillor and they need protection at all costs. Councillors do not allocate houses, but they become victims when people don't get their way."
Councillor Thandi Tshabalala was not home at the time of the attack. She had been taken elsewhere two days earlier due to concerns about her safety.
Earlier, the SA Local Government Association (Salga) said councillors needed "risk benefits" for damage, disability, or death due to public violence. This should be at the expense of the state or municipality and be included in a councillor's salary, spokesperson Milisa Kentane said.
Salga urged the minister of co-operative governance and traditional affairs to introduce such benefits.
"Councillors face a greater risk of violence than office bearers in other spheres of government. Yet the current legislative and policy frameworks do not grant councillors any protection should this eventuality arise.
"This escalation of violent protests has not only seen the damaging of personal property, but has caused financial and psychological trauma, injury, and the loss of lives."