Newsmaker – Malemaville: All party stripes flock to Jujutown

2014-11-16 15:00

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United by poverty and homelessness, members of all ­political parties try to settle down in Malemaville near Pretoria

You’d expect Pretoria’s newest informal settlement to be brimming with red berets. After all, it’s named after Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema.

But in Malemaville, members of the ANC are making their homes alongside those who say they vote for the DA and the Inkatha Freedom Party, as well as the EFF.

“Politics doesn’t matter here. We are just a community of people looking for better living conditions,” says Peter Mashakeng.

Mashakeng was one of several residents of Nellmapius near Pretoria who were injured when police fired rubber bullets at people who’d illegally occupied the land now known as Malemaville.

The land occupation started on Sunday after EFF leaders in Nellmapius’ ward 86 informed residents they should move on to the land. The EFF collated a list of thousands of names and started allocating plots on the land.

But the occupation quickly turned violent.

“I got shot in the knee and on my hip,” Mashakeng says, proudly showing off his grazed upper thigh.

The 34-year-old says he was tired of paying exorbitant rent for a home that barely housed his family of five.

“I went to that land because I wanted better for my family.”

But the small community of about 80 people isn’t technically in Malemaville any more. On Friday, that stretch of land was cordoned off by four police vans.

Mashakeng and his neighbours have camped on another patch of unoccupied land right across the road from what they hope will eventually become home.

They’ve used four 2m-long logs and a length of thick black plastic to create a makeshift tent. On Friday at about lunchtime, about 20 people were sitting beneath it. Someone made a bonfire that was keeping people warm and was also used for cooking.

Nosihle Mokoena (21) was among those from Nellmapius who saw Malemaville as a new start. She says the toughest part of the week was that she hasn’t been able to provide security for her eight-month-old son and two-year-old daughter.

“When it was raining, I asked a neighbour if the children could sleep at their home because I didn’t want them to get sick.”

Mokoena says it hurts to be treated like a criminal when all she and her new neighbours want is the land they were promised.

Katherine Steenkamp (64) nods quietly from beneath a rainbow-coloured umbrella.

“I applied for an RDP house 18 years ago and still nothing.” She was excited to move to Malemaville because she could finally have a piece of land that she could call her own.

“I am a pensioner and I have to I pay R450 rent monthly. That is too much.”

Steenkamp lost many of her belongings when the Red Ants tore down her home at the new settlement. She’s spending her nights in a friend’s house while she waits for instruction from “the leaders” who first directed her to Malemaville.

Neither the ward councillors nor the EFF’s national leadership had come to address them since the police shut down Malemaville, she said.

“The councillors don’t care about us.”

Then she clicks her tongue and slowly shuffles away to take her place beneath that thick, black plastic sheet.

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