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Mayor vows to remove shacks

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“These shacks have to be removed to make way for the food garden”

SOL PLAATJE executive mayor Patrick Mabilo has promised that the controversial shack erected in a community food garden in Ramora Street will be demolished today.

During an inspection of the community project in Ward 4 yesterday, Mabilo promised the elderly beneficiaries of the NGO, Disapele Waste Management that the shack would be demolished.

He said that the shack, together with another one that has already been provided with electricity, will be removed today.

“These shacks have to be removed to make way for the food garden,” said Mabilo. “Food security is a noble programme.”

The shack was erected last week just in time for the electrification of Phase 2 of Ramora Shacks, while the other shack has been there for some time.

Mabilo arrived at the community food garden yesterday morning where he was met by the angry owners of the new shack, who threatened to cause chaos if anyone touched the structure.

Mabilo was accompanied by the municipality’s security officials, representatives from the human settlements section and members of the mayoral committee.

To enter the garden, the delegation had to use the trampled fence on the other side of the yard.

The community accused the owner of the shack of destroying the fence when he brought in materials to erect the shack.

The owners, for their part, argued that the removal of the shack would hinder the electrification process in the area, and that the garden should rather be moved elsewhere.

They stated further that the project has not been operating for several years and that there were initially four plots marked out on the piece of land for housing purposes.

One of the owners, Anthony Molatlhwe, also pointed out that there were still open areas available in Ramora or on the other side of the ward where the garden could be relocated to.

“This place is for shacks and we don’t have space for parks, gardens and resorts as we need housing.”

The NGO was allocated the land in 2002 with the intention of providing food security for the beneficiaries. However, the latter admitted that the project had stopped about 14 years ago after it ran out of funds.

Yesterday several unearthed water pipes from the original project could still be seen lying around next to the shack.

The beneficiaries pointed out that they had escalated their plea for assistance in reviving the project to ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte during the party’s 108th anniversary celebrations in the city in January.

Confirming his support for the project, Mabilo requested that a delegation, including all relevant stakeholders, be elected to engage him on the matter.

“We don’t want these elderly people to go to the president while we are here. And through this move we are encouraging them to continue this project. An alternative place will be identified where these shacks can be erected.”

Mabilo expressed his disappointment in the manner in which elderly people were insulted and verbally abused by young people.

He further highlighted that Ward 4 was top of the list in terms of conflicts caused by political infighting.

Molatlhwe accused the mayor of being power hungry and of preventing the current ward councillor from delivering services.

He pointed out that 98 of the 106 shacks in Ramora received electricity, adding that many were moved to the area so that they could also receive services.

“It is well-known that politicians in this ward tend to mix their political issues with developmental issues. We had to fight for these shacks to be here and to get basic services because we need them. Our development will not be stopped by people who own houses from Blikkies, which is next to our shacks,” he stated.