Tshwane MMC explains what mayor meant by 'build a wall' comment

2017-06-27 19:49
Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga speaking to News24 (File, News24)

Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga speaking to News24 (File, News24)

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Pretoria – While Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga may have decided to break down his idea to build a wall between two communities at war with each other in Mamelodi, there had been another wall erected that was allegedly broken down by residents of the informal settlement.

Last week, in something reminiscent of the Berlin Wall or United States President Donald Trump's idea of building a wall to separate the US and Mexico, Msimanga suggested that a wall was needed between the community of Mahube Valley Extension One, in Mamelodi, and residents of an informal settlement called Mountain View, which had been clashing with one another.

He visited both communities last week, calling for calm.

Msimanga said that informal dwellers could not be evicted immediately, but that a wall would be built to separate the two communities.

"The wall should be built as soon as possible," said Msimanga.

Tshwane MMC for Housing and Human Settlements Mandla Nkomo subsequently set the record straight, saying a wall had previously been built in Mahube Valley as it was a closed off, gated community. He said the wall had been erected before the creation of the informal settlement but was torn down by the informal dwellers.

"When the people invaded the land, they broke down the wall to access infrastructure," Nkomo told News24.

They allegedly broke down the wall to get access to electricity, water and the sewage system.

Calm returns

Nkomo explained that Msimanga had been referring to this wall and that when he spoke about a "buffer", he had meant that he wanted to create a space between the two communities. This so that they could better handle the illegal connections made by residents of the informal settlement.

On Tuesday, News24 visited both communities. A sense of calm prevailed. Police were no longer in the area and residents of the informal settlement had started to rebuild their homes.

News24 saw a resident who appeared to be reconnecting his electricity from a power line that ran into the ground.

Last week, battles erupted between the two neighbouring communities. The violence, which started on Wednesday evening and continued into Thursday, saw the petrol bombings of several houses and more than 50 shacks.

Clashes broke out after a substation was damaged, allegedly caused by illegal electricity connections by residents of the informal settlement.

Many families from both communities were left destitute and their belongings destroyed in the fires.

The mayor organised alternative accommodation for them and said a series of meetings would be held to solve the issues that were dividing two communities.

Homes petrol bombed

Florence Motise was home with her two children - a teenager, 16, and toddler, 3 - when someone threw a petrol bomb into her living room on Wednesday night. Her husband was at work at the time.

She narrowly escaped the inferno with her two kids, who were left traumatised.

The fire destroyed most of what they owned; the house is no longer liveable.

Motise said she was both angry and sad that everything they had worked for had been destroyed, and that their lives were put in danger.

A resident of Mountain View, who did not want to be named, said his shack and all his belongings were destroyed after being set alight on Wednesday night.

Another said his shack was petrol bombed while he was at work, and that his newborn baby had died from smoke inhalation, while his wife tried to find help. This has not been confirmed.

Both communities blame each other for being the initiators of Wednesday’s violence, with residents of Mahube Valley saying the informal dwellers were taking electricity and water illegally and leaving them with the bill.

Read more on:    solly msimanga  |  pretoria

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