Warring Mamelodi communities to meet - City of Tshwane

2017-06-26 22:05
Residents of the informal settlement by Mahube Valley say they want to apologise and they don't want to fight. (File, Alex Mitchley, News24)

Residents of the informal settlement by Mahube Valley say they want to apologise and they don't want to fight. (File, Alex Mitchley, News24)

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Pretoria - Police have left Mahube Valley Extension One in Mamelodi, where residents have been clashing with residents of an informal settlement next-door over illegal electricity connections. 

Now, the City of Tshwane is organising a meeting between the two communities.

The violence, which began last Wednesday evening and continued well into Thursday, saw the petrol bombing of several bond houses and more than 50 shacks. Clashes broke out between the two communities after a substation was damaged, allegedly caused by illegal electricity connections by residents of the informal settlement.

As a result of the battle between the two communities, many families from both sides have been left destitute, with their belongings being destroyed in the fires. Tshwane Mayor Solly

Msimanga organised for those affected to be housed elsewhere.

A steering committee meeting, with representatives of both communities, was being organised by the city and would take place this week.

"The calm, though not likely to last without lasting solutions, provides a space for dialogue to begin between affected communities," said Housing and Human Settlements MMC Mandla Nkomo.

"Arrangements are underway to have the meeting this week. The meeting will afford both sides to openly air their grievances in a non-violent manner and thus pave a way forward in dealing with this impasse."

'Wall should be built as soon as possible'

Msimanga, who last week addressed residents from both communities separately, suggested the building of a wall to separate the two warring sides.

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.

Some Mahube Valley residents asked Msimanga to evict their neighbours immediately and threatened to burn the entire informal settlement to the ground if this was not done.

"We have reached a point where it is now an eye for an eye," one resident told Msimanga.

Residents from both communities were not entirely convinced that a wall would solve the issues they had with one another.

One resident, 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 both traumatised.

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

'This illegal practice is only taking us backwards'

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 from the informal settlement known as Mountain View, who didn't want to be named, said his shack, with all his belongings, had also been destroyed after it was set alight on Wednesday night.

Another said that, while he was at work, his shack was petrol bombed, 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.

In a statement, Msimanga denounced the sporadic land invasions.

"While the city acknowledges that the rate of formal housing delivery is not keeping pace with the expansion of informal settlements, this illegal practice is only taking us backwards as a city. 

"We have a vision for sustainable housing located within a broader land and social reform framework and efforts must be made to ensure that this vision is not side-lined. An integrated, interdepartmental effort will be required to curb land invasion in the city and ensure the active involvement of communities."

Read more on:    pretoria  |  protests

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