Minister 'not contemplating forced removals'

Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu vehemently denied on Wednesday that she was contemplating forced removals from Cape Town’s troubled Joe Slovo settlement.

But in the same breath she said she had instructed her department and Gateway project developers Thubelisha “to investigate legal avenues to compel residents of informal settlements to make way for housing developments”.

On Tuesday she said in a statement that she had instructed the department to look at “legal solutions” to clearing the land after Monday’s violent protests by residents.

“Until now, no attempts have been made to force residents of the informal settlement at Joe Slovo to move,” she said in Tuesday’s statement.

On Wednesday she said: “I am not contemplating ‘forced removals’ from Joe Slovo, as reported in newspapers today [Wednesday].

“I abhor the term, with its apartheid connotations. I am investigating all available solutions to ensure the delivery of houses is not undermined.”

She said she believed most Joe Slovo residents were law-abiding people who would move off the land into temporary accommodation voluntarily to allow Gateway developers in.

Earlier, the Joe Slovo task team said one of its activist members who acted as spokesperson for the shack dwellers during Monday’s confrontation with police had been arrested.

The team said Mzwanele Zulu went to the Langa police station on Tuesday evening to inform police that the community wanted to have a meeting inside the settlement to discuss the way forward.

The police agreed not to harass the meeting in any way.

“However, just minutes later as Mzwanele was walking home, police swooped on him and arrested him,” the Task Team said.

It was “quite clear” that Zulu had been arrested merely for being an activist and a media spokesperson.

“The community has heard that there was an instruction from the provincial commissioner to arrest Mzwanele.

“This is ludicrous because on Monday the police insisted on speaking to a negotiator from [the] task team and Mzwanele was that negotiator.
So it is clear that the arrest is unlawful.”

Police spokesperson Captain Elliot Sinyangana said two people were arrested on Tuesday night as part of ongoing investigations into the case of public violence opened in the wake of Monday’s unrest.

He did not have their names, and did not know yet when they would appear in court.

He said the two arrests brought the total arrests related to the unrest to nine.

The team in its statement also accused Sisulu of lying about the proposed removal of 6 000 Joe Slovo residents to Delft to make way for the Gateway project.

The removal was one of the major grievances behind Monday’s protest.

“The minister of housing keeps saying that this move will be temporary. This is a bald-faced lie.

“Joe Slovo residents are going to be left in Delft for the rest of their lives. There are no plans to accommodate them in the new housing that is getting built in Joe Slovo.

“Only 1 000 people maximum can be accommodated in the new Joe Slovo houses, which leaves 5 000 unaccounted for.”

In addition, the government had refused to build reconstruction and development programme houses for the residents, instead building homes which would be sold to those who could afford to pay R150 000 to R250 000 for a house.—Sapa

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