Whites stole our land - Bekkersdal residents

2014-01-22 20:00
People take part in a protest in Bekkersdal. (<a href=\\https://twitter.com/journalist_jill\\><b>Theresa Taylor</b></a>, Twitter)

People take part in a protest in Bekkersdal. (Theresa Taylor, Twitter)

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Westonaria - Vacant land in Bekkersdal, on the West Rand, was stolen by whites, the Greater Westonaria Concerned Residents' Association said on Wednesday.

"We are not apologetic for occupying the land. We believe it belongs to us. It was stolen by the whites," spokesperson Mbulelo Koyana said.

He said the 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.

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

Earlier on Wednesday, 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 would be heard in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Monday.

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

"Our legal team is working on that matter."

Last year, violent protests broke out in the area and lasted for more than a month, with residents demanding the removal of the municipality's Mayor Nonkoliso Tundzi. They accused her of maladministration and nepotism.

Resident Fezile Momoza said on Wednesday 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."

The residents wanted councillors guilty of corruption to be suspended, he said.

- SAPA
Read more on:    johannesburg  |  protests  |  land
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