/ 5 September 2007

Soweto housing protesters ‘should not be misled’

Soweto residents who protested violently over housing earlier this week should not be misinformed and misled, Gauteng housing minister Nomvula Mokonyane warned on Wednesday.

”While residents and communities have a right to support and belong to any group of their choice, they also have to guard against being misinformed and misled,” said Mokonyane.

Her comments follow remarks by the Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF) that the government had promised the residents in 1994 that houses would be built in the Protea South area.

APF national organiser Silumko Radebe said residents were angry and impatient and that was why they had embarked on protest action. ”Nothing so far has been done for Protea South,” he said, adding that the residents had last heard ”promises” from the provincial minister in September last year.

During Monday’s protest, one man was killed and a number of journalists were injured.

Said Mokonyane: ”People should work with their elected representatives, in this case their elected councillors, to gain access to the correct information.”

She said Protea South is one of 405 informal settlements being targeted through a programme of upgrading meant to eradicate all informal settlements in Gauteng by 2014. Of the 405 informal settlements, only 30%, or 122, are capable of being upgraded.

Residents in Protea South live on unsuitable land where sinkholes can develop, posing a serious danger. Those affected will therefore be moved to a new mixed-housing project that is under development in Doornkop.

She said Doornkop is one of 10 housing developments that will accommodate mixed-income neighbourhoods, offering amenities such as schools, clinics, parks and playgrounds.

Others mixed housing projects are Cosmo City, K206 in Alexandra, Chief Albert Luthuli and Leeupoort in Ekurhuleni, Nelmapius, Olievenhoutbosch and Thorntree View in Tshwane and Droogeheuwel, Middlevlei and Kagiso/Azaadville on the West Rand.

On Monday, about 500 Protea South protesters began barricading the main road early in the morning over housing complaints. The crowd also threw stones at police and journalists and vandalised lamp posts. Police responded with rubber bullets and water cannons.

Radebe said Oupa Mputle (44), who was knocked over and killed by a bakery van during the protest, will be buried in Soweto on Sunday. The Department of Housing said it was shocked and saddened by Mputle’s death and extended its condolences to his family and to the community. — Sapa