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Churches demand answers from Sol on land, basic services

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“If they fail to provide us with answers within the next two weeks, we will march to the municipality.”

Sol Plaatje Municipality spokesperson Sello Matsie on Monday pointed out that there were clear council policies regarding the acquisition of land.

THE PROVINCIAL Churches Leaders Organisation intends on staging a march to the Sol Plaatje municipal offices if it does not receive any answers regarding the provision of basic services for member’s shanty churches within the next 14 days.

The general secretary of the Provincial Churches Leaders Organisation, David Setilo, has objected to a selected number of churches that were apparently granted municipal land and basic services.

“The one church in Club 2000 is bigger than the specified size. We are prepared to pay for the provision of water, sanitation and electricity and yet we are being left high and dry. Our churches are fully occupied every week and are operating within the Covid-19 regulations,” Setilo said on Monday.

He added that after it became apparent that no other churches would be provided with land, they had decided to “invade” around 150 plots and erect their churches on unused land and unoccupied dumping sites.

“We are in the process of identifying more land for occupation by our members. We have members all over the Province, including in Ritchie, Warrenton, Barkly West, Colesberg and Delportshoop, and in Bloemfontein.”

Setilo stated that a letter of demand was handed over to the municipal offices on Monday as numerous attempts to arrange a meeting to resolve the issue had never materialised.

“If they fail to provide us with answers within the next two weeks, we will march to the municipality.”

Sol Plaatje Municipality spokesperson Sello Matsie on Monday pointed out that there were clear council policies regarding the acquisition of land.

“Different organisations apply for different sizes and therefore it is unchristian to be part of a discussion to demonise any church or church group,” said Matsie.

He added that churches were entitled to march in terms of their Constitutional right. “However, they should follow due processes on applying for services like everybody else.”

He indicated that meetings regarding land applications, including those submitted by faith-based groups, were held on a regular basis.

“Temporary services can only be provided on surveyed land so that proper billing can be processed. The municipality is always willing to enter into discussions with all stakeholders,” said Matsie.