Now that’s gangster!

2012-09-24 09:57

Durban is so gangster that even the mayor, the honourable James Nxumalo, has a grille.

I’m not joking. About either the mayoral gold slit or the city’s gangster attitude towards some of the people who live in it.

How else can you explain the fact that a Durban judge has given the mayor and the municipal manager, my old neighbour S’bu Sithole, three months to obey an almost four-year-old court order the city has simply ignored, or face time in the slammer for contempt of court?

I’m really not taking the piss. Honest.

On Wednesday, Judge Nigel Hollis put the boot into the city over its treatment of 37 families from Siyanda, an area near Newlands West.

They were moved out in 2009 to build city housing, with High Court Judge Themba Sishi ordering then that the city provide them with alternative homes within 12 months.

They were moved into a transit camp at Richmond Farm, temporary prefab housing that they were meant to use until their new houses at the Kulula housing project were ready.

That was the theory. Instead, their houses were given to other, allegedly politically connected people.

They were left to rot in the transit camp, a horrible scab of a place with no working toilets, no proper taps, no shade and no future.

The city made no attempt to sort out its mess, even after the families, led by a hardheaded and politically sussed 60-year-old called Sekithini Nxumalo (no relative of the major) lawyered up and went back to court.

Hollis ruled that it was the legal obligation of Nxumalo, Sithole and the city’s housing head to either give them the houses they were promised or equal ones.

No ifs, buts or maybes. No excuses.

To get their attention, Hollis gave them three months to do it or face contempt charges. Jail time will follow.

There wasn’t much of a sense of celebration at the Richmond Farm transit camp when the Crocman and I popped in to visit the ageing agitator the day after the judgment.

That’s not that strange – the city hasn’t exactly been a law-abiding citizen when it comes to these folks.

MaNxumalo thinks the city will use more ratepayers’ cash to appeal, rather than do the right thing. She did have a good giggle at the idea of the mayor swapping the chain for handcuffs and leg irons though.

When you think about it, Hollis’s judgment is pretty street. It’s a gangster solution to acts of institutionalised gangsterism.

It puts guns to heads in city hall.

Hollis has pulled a Don Corleone on the city brass. He’s made them an offer they can’t refuse.

Now that’s real cool. That’s gangster!

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