Last night, 22 May 2018, unrest broke out after a community meeting was disrupted by aggrieved residents in Kayamandi. The meeting was aimed at addressing housing challenges, following heightened tensions after incidents of attempted land invasion in the area.
The attempts occurred largely on private agricultural property with the potential of spilling over onto municipal land. The owner of the property as well as the Municipality obtained court interdicts to have the unlawfully erected structures removed.
The South African Police Service (SAPS) and Law Enforcement Officials were present in the area to maintain order. Calm was restored to the area late last night and the situation remains calm this morning. Residents have been advised to remain vigilant and Law Enforcement continues to monitor the situation.
Our first priority is to ensure that members of the community are safe and that both private and public property is protected. We support the democratic right of South Africans to protest peacefully and strongly condemn the use of violence and the destruction of property during last night’s unrest. These actions are unlawful and we are working with SAPS and Law Enforcement to ensure that any persons acting unlawfully are brought to book.
The Municipality is particularly distressed to learn that Temporary Relocation Area (TRA) structures that are constructed by the Municipality for vulnerable residents were destroyed by protesters, delaying the planned project in Kayamandi. We are in the process of conducting an investigation to determine the exact extent of the damage.
The Municipality has had several meetings with the aggrieved residents and backyard dwellers. We are keenly aware of their needs and the challenges they face. Our housing list currently has a backlog of more than 22 000. The municipality is forced to continually balance the concerns of residents in desperate need of housing opportunities and needing to protect the rights of property owners. Land invasions and the construction of unlawful structures makes it difficult for the municipality to effectively respond to the plight of the homeless. We must systematically allocate houses in accordance with the housing list. The unlawful structures further contributes to conflict and unrest within the community.
We urge all community leaders to assist the municipality in the development of a systematic approach to housing delivery and we look forward to further engagements with community leaders to ensure that service delivery to the area can resume as soon as possible.
23 May 2018
Ms Geraldine Mettler – Municipal Manager