Home News Letter ‘exposes’ Herlear ‘land grab’

Letter ‘exposes’ Herlear ‘land grab’

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“Erven specifically zoned for middle-income housing is now being illegitimately used to erect housing for an overcrowded household from Colville instead”

A LETTER, signed by an executive manager in the Mayor’s Office, authorising the allocation of six erven in Herlear valued at around R3 million to erect houses for a Colville family of 47 people, has emerged.

Yesterday, the DA called for what it termed the “land grab” in Herlear to be halted.

The DA caucus leader in the Sol Plaatje Municipality, Christopher Phiri, said yesterday that representatives of the party had met with the Sol Plaatje Speaker, Ingrid Koopman, calling for transparency in the controversial Herlear land matter.

“Erven specifically zoned for middle-income housing is now being illegitimately used to erect housing for an overcrowded household from Colville instead,” Phiri said yesterday.

He pointed out that workers such as police officers, nurses, prison warders and even security guards, who earned too little to qualify for bonds and too much to qualify for RDP houses, were being disadvantaged in a political move meant to ensure that a promise made by President Cyril Ramaphosa during his recent visit to Kimberley did not fall by the wayside.

“The DA has sympathy with the 47-member family from Colville who have been living in overcrowded conditions, but we cannot tolerate a situation where the Sol Plaatje Municipality is playing second fiddle to politically-driven individuals, including an ANC councillor who has been central to this ploy,” Phiri added.

He stated further that while the mayor had denied any knowledge of who allocated the municipal land for the housing project, the DA has learnt that an executive manager within the Mayor’s Office had on February 19 authorised the allocation of six erven to Afribiz company, which is sponsoring the construction of housing for the family.

“The DA is in further possession of a letter dated yesterday (Wednesday, March 4) giving Afribiz the go-ahead to resume work on the site, in the presence of security which has been arranged for by the municipality,” Phiri stated. “We therefore suspect that the mayor has in fact known about the decision all along.”

Phiri said further that not only had the mayor failed to inform the municipal mayoral committee (MMC) on human settlements about this property allocation but he had also been lying to the DA and to the public.

“He has also purposefully circumvented the Spelum committee and council, acting as a law unto himself. This is not the first time he has done so, the auctioning of the controversial Q7 mayoral vehicles being a case in point,” Phiri said.

“In addition to (mayor Patrick) Mabilo running the municipality like a one-man show, we now also see a situation where an official, who has no powers designated to him to allocate land, has himself usurped municipal powers that do not belong to him. This is illegal – this is in effect a land grab.”

The party further called for the housing project to be halted immediately.

“In this specific case, the land in question is made up of nine plots, which were in fact ready to go out on sale to the public in order to generate revenue in the region of R3 million for the embattled Sol Plaatje Municipality, which has not only been struggling to pay its Eskom account but its salaries too,” he said.

“We also need to consider that the RDP structures to be erected on the land will be of far less value than the actual erven, which are individually valued at approximately R280 000 each. This will unfairly benefit the beneficiaries of these specific RDP houses.”

He stated further that the DA would be asking for a formal investigation into the questionable allocation of the Herlear properties, as well as of all involved parties. “In this regard, we want the councillor involved and the mayor to be hauled before the ethics committee, as their actions are clearly politically motivated and in breach of the code of conduct for councillors.”

“The DA will also be tabling a motion to make the issue of land a priority on council’s agenda.

“Sol Plaatje Municipality has for far too long failed to make adequate land available for low- and middle-cost housing, itself causing the current housing crisis that Kimberley finds itself in. This must urgently be addressed so that those in dire need of low- and middle-cost housing can gain access to land and houses in a fair, transparent and constitutional manner.”

No response was received from the Office of the Executive Mayor yesterday afternoon.