By Max Rambau, CORC
At Bapsfontein relocation is still continuing and I visited the area on the Tuesday, 15th February and I discovered that some families were still being intimidated by the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality through the use of the Ekurhuleni Metro Police and the “Red Ants”. A few families have been forcefully removed to a place called Zenzeleni in Daveyton (near Gabon). Incidentally, this is the area where 300 Gabon people were evicted.
The Bapsfontein families are temporarily relocated to that place.
One of the trucks that is forcefully relocating people to Zenzeleni in Daveyton
The unfortunate thing is that the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality has devised a strategy whereby they continue to forcefully remove families from Bapsfontein, albeit at a low profile and the focus of the world and media.
They have been preventing us and the leadership of Bapsfontein from meeting with the Gauteng MEC for Housing and Local Government. Meetings have been scheduled with the MEC but Ekurhuleni have asked the MEC not to meet with us before meeting them. We have copies of letters that the MMC for Housing, Vivienne Chauke has sent to the MEC. They even give him dates of meetings they will be having with us, without having communicated with us and, as a result the MEC had to cancel scheduled meetings with us.
We were supposed to meet the MEC on the 16th February but the Ekurhuleni prevented this meeting by indicating that they would be having a meeting with us on the 17th February, this meeting did not take place as they did not communicate details of this meeting to us.
Again, after we had written a letter to the MEC (copy circulated to them) about the failure of the meeting of the 17th February, they wrote another letter to the MEC indicating that they would be meeting with us on the 19th February (Saturday) at 17h00. This has also not been communicated to us.
Fortunately, the office of the MEC copy circulated (Cc) the letter from Ekurhuleni and in their response they asked Ekurhuleni if we knew about the meeting.
We have since written a letter to the office of the MEC indicating that there was no communication between us and Ekurhuleni regarding this meeting and we have appealed to him (MEC) to grant us permission to meet with him to discuss the Bapsfontein issue as it is clear that the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality is playing hide and seek with us while they continue with the forced removal programme.
As we left Bapsfontein I was invited by one member of the local leadership at Bredel (near Kempton Park). When we arrived there we met with the coomiitee who informed us that the area was a farm and a company called Panner has since bought the land. This company now wants to expand and they want the people to move. The community is seeking advice from us on what to do. The school in the area has already been demolished and moved elsewhere.
The committee informed us that there were some families have moved because they were offered about R25 000 to move out from the area. There are only 30 families that are remaining and they are encouraged to go and find places and the company promised that they would then build for them. The company is no longer offering R25 000 to families.
We advised them to meet with consultants to advice them. They indicated that they would be meeting on Saturday to discuss this matter on whether they would be agreeing to be referred.
On the 18th February we had a mobilizing meeting at Diepsloot because I had been phoned by the Johannesburg Metro Municipality that they were having a programme in partnership with the ISN of visiting Zandspruit and Diepsloot. This was part of the National Human Settlements Research project on informal settlements. They needed us because they did not have access to these areas.
We met with the local Business Forum and a member of SANCO we explained who was coming to visit and the purpose for which they were visiting. They people of Diepsloot were happy and welcomed us.
It was agreed that there would be a pilot project but what the community desperately needed was a meeting with City Power to discuss the installation of flood lights in the area because of crime and the murders that were happening in the area.
They also indicated that they want the ISN to come and address the community before the MEC for Housing and Local Government comes to them. They said that they were very happy that the ISN was facilitating development in their area.
The National Human Settlements Research team indicated that they would need a meeting with us to further discuss the issues of Diepsloot.
The disused building that the Kliptown Youth Forum is planning to turn into a library and information centre