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Residents to turn to court over land

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The residents, who started Jacksonville in 2015, now fear that they will not benefit from the electricity installation that is currently under way after their plots were given to other people.

SEVERAL residents of Jacksonville informal settlement plan to turn to the Northern Cape High Court in an attempt to secure their plots following threats that land invaders stand to benefit from the services for which they have been fighting for for years.

This follows their eviction in 2016, where the Sol Plaatje Municipality removed eight beneficiaries from the list of 85 Jacksonville residents after they were accused of occupying the land illegally.

The residents, who started Jacksonville in 2015, now fear that they will not benefit from the electricity installation that is currently under way after their plots were given to other people.

Electricity installation is still at the beginning stage, where poles are being installed and some shacks are getting electrical wiring.

Work at several households was suspended due to the confusion around the beneficiary list.

The residents previously took the municipality to court over their eviction, wherein the high court ruled that Sol Plaatje should find them suitable land with services.

They claim that they have been in endless service delivery engagements with then Northern Cape premier Sylvia Lucas and now the current incumbent, Zamani Saul.

They also say they have held meetings with ousted Sol Plaatje executive mayor Mangaliso Matika, as well as with his successor, Patrick Mabilo.

They now regret abiding by the law and following protocol in agreeing to move as, according to them, their plots were allocated to other people while they waited for the municipality.

The residents, some of whom stay on the same plots, are now at loggerheads and blame each other for intervening in the process.

According to one of the disgruntled group of beneficiaries, there are two shacks on her plot and, according to her, the “invaders” are preventing her from entering by locking the gates.

“I have no alternative but to sleep at my mother’s RDP house that is already overcrowded,” said Jennifer Seekoei.

Claudia Jansen said her life was being threatened to such an extent that she was forced to quit her job.

“We cannot even walk in the streets freely any longer because we are targeted for speaking up about this list issue. There does not seem to be any solution from the municipality either as the list of beneficiaries continues to be chopped and changed,” said Jansen.

The group have also accused their representatives of playing political games with the intention of imposing membership cards of their various parties on them.

The chairperson of Sol Plaatje City Council’s human settlement and housing committee, Ronnie Morwe, assured the community that an amicable solution would be found to resolve their issues regarding the beneficiary lists.

He admitted that he was aware of the squabbles within the community due to the confusion regarding beneficiaries.

According to Morwe, the real beneficiaries were asked to move from their plots back in 2017 in order to allow for the installation of pipes on the land.

He said that opportunists took advantage of the situation and moved onto the empty plots without the council’s permission or that of the owners of the plots.

“All that has to happen is to expose the truth so that the rightful owners can benefit from the basic services that are due to them,” said Morwe.

“Now there is a crisis, however, as there is a situation where there are two shacks on one plot and we cannot determine the real beneficiary.

“That is why we had no choice but to skip such plots until the real beneficiaries have been determined,” explained Morwe.

He pointed out that there were more disputes of this nature in Jacksonville, and added that a dispute resolution meeting with the councillors and the identified shack owners was being planned for next week.

The outcome of the meeting will determine the rightful beneficiaries.

He pointed out that only a few plots were in dispute.

“No one has the right to move onto someone else’s yard without permission. They have to be moved back to where they came from.”

He said it would not be too difficult to determine the rightful owners during the dispute resolution meeting because there was already a database of all the beneficiaries dating back to 2017.