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Let shacks go up, urges mayor

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“This is a pressing human need and we should not spite the poor when the private sector comes to the party.”

WHILE Sol Plaatje Municipality executive mayor Patrick Mabilo yesterday remained mum on who had granted permission for the building of informal shacks in Herlear, he urged the community not to stop the project.

It is believed that the shacks being erected on the open piece of land behind the police flats have been earmarked for the resettlement of the 47 people living in an overcrowded house in Colville. Five shacks will apparently be erected on the land.

Mabilo confirmed yesterday, when questioned by the media about the erection of the shacks, that the land belonged to the Sol Plaatje Municipality.

He added that it was not the responsibility of “councillors, including the mayor, to allocate land”.

While finding suitable land to resettle the Colville family of 47 has proved problematic, Mabilo lashed out at local community members for preventing the construction of the shanties from going ahead.

“The community members should put themselves in that family’s shoes,” he said. “This is a pressing human need and we should not spite the poor when the private sector comes to the party.

“They should stop their bureaucratic processes and put themselves in the situation of these people and how they would have reacted.

“This is not a matter of pride so they must not stand in the way of a life-changing gesture. That family has suffered and their dignity was compromised for many years. That is why we have taken the hand of a good Samaritan.”

A Venda-based company, AfriBiz Investments, partnered with its corporate social investment foundation, the Collen Mashawana Foundation, undertook to build houses as well as renovate the existing house in Colville after learning about the family’s plight.

It was agreed that new houses would be built to accommodate the five siblings, their 12 children, 18 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

Earlier this week, Ward 28 councillor Herbert Japhta objected to the construction of the shacks in Herlear, stating that the allocation of the land had not been discussed by council.

He also pointed out that no one could shed any light on who had given the go-ahead for the shacks to be erected on the land.

Previously, members of the Greenpoint community had threatened to destroy any structures put up in their area for the Colville family, arguing that they had been overlooked in the allocation of land for houses.

Herbert was expected to engage with residents of Ward 28 to hear their views on the matter at 5pm yesterday.