‘Councillor selling building materials’

2013-04-22 00:00

THE Human Settlements Department has launched a probe into allegations that a councillor in the uMzimkhulu Municipality has removed building materials from more than 200 demolished low-cost houses and sold them.

The allegation comes as the department embarks on a programme to rebuild scores of houses that were shoddily built as far back as the early 1990s.

At uMzimkhulu’s Riverside area, 452 houses were recently demolished.

Inkosi Ngamizizwe Mdlala of the IFP has alleged that a councillor sold the building material from the demolished houses to residents.

Madlala claimed the councillor had been keeping stacks of corrugated iron with the local induna to build another community hall and church, but the residents were not aware of the plan.

Municipal officials “have chosen to sweep the matter under the carpet”, said Mdlala.

It was time for Human Settlements MEC Ravi Pillay to act “and make sure that community needs are not compromised by greedy councillors and officials”.

Human Settlements spokesperson Mbulelo Baloyi said yesterday the matter was being investigated.

“We are conducting an investigation to check if protocols are followed when the houses are demolished,” Baloyi said.

The councillor accused by Madlala denied the allegations, saying that no building materials had been sold.

Instead, she said, the ward committee and stakeholders decided to donate the building materials because the shoddily built houses were being vandalised.

The building material had been donated to needy people, and a pre-school and churches were also identified as beneficiaries.

A community hall would also be built with the materials, she said.

Municipal manager Zweliphansi Sikhosana confirmed that a decision was taken to give the building materials to the community because people were stealing them.

“What would you do with material that was lying there? We said the best thing to do is to distribute it among the community,” Sikhosana said.

But Baloyi said there was a protocol in place that required materials from demolished houses to be kept for times of disaster.

Baloyi said the Riverside housing project, inherited from the Eastern Cape when uMzimkhulu Municipality was transferred to KwaZulu-Natal, was just one of many in the province earmarked for rectification.

He said the department had spent R33,3 million on the Riverside project to date, and a further 300 partly built houses would be rebuilt there.

Finance MEC Ina Cronje said in her budget speech that 27 174 houses were still to be rebuilt in Shallcross, Austerville, Estcourt, Newcastle, Dundee, Vryheid and Durban.

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