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We will not evict you – mayor

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JACKSONVILLE residents were in a jubilant mood yesterday following a visit from the Sol Plaatje executive mayor, Mangaliso Matika, where they were advised that they would no longer be evicted.

HAPPY: A community member raises her issues during the mayoral visit at the Civic centre in Squarehill Park yesterday.

JACKSONVILLE residents were in a jubilant mood yesterday following a visit from the Sol Plaatje executive mayor, Mangaliso Matika, where they were advised that they would no longer be evicted.

Matika also reassured Floors and Colville residents that they were not “stepchildren” but the “children of Sol Plaatje Municipality” during community meetings that were held yesterday.

Eviction notices that were served two weeks ago had sparked angry protests from residents, which saw the roads leading into Roodepan, as well as Floors and Colville, blockaded with burning tyres and rocks last week.

The community has now agreed to give the mayor two weeks to return with the feedback he promised regarding their grievances.

Jacksonville community leader Samuel Papier said yesterday that residents were overjoyed that they would not lose their homes.

“I was prepared to die in the fight for our land. I will continue to fight for a clinic to be built in the area as it is too far for the sick and elderly to travel to Roodepan for medical assistance. We have agreed to work together with the municipality to remove ghost shacks. We also have to draw a line with regards to the occupation of land by foreign nationals, as our own people are in desperate need of land.”

Papier added that there were still outstanding issues of basic services, such as the provision of water, electricity and sanitation, that needed to be addressed.

“The new houses do not have toilets, the houses are cracking and leaking. The mayor did not spend enough time to listen to all our complaints before he sped off.”

Some residents stated that they felt honoured that the mayor had come to listen to their concerns and were convinced that he had answered their prayers.

A group of community members were, however, not satisfied as they believed that the mayor was merely making “more false promises”.

“No specific day or time was given. There are at least four holidays, not counting the weekends. If he does not come back to us in the next two weeks, we will return to the streets to protest. We don’t care if the police shoot us.”

Earlier in the day, Floors and Colville residents gave the mayor a standing ovation at the Judy Scott Library, as instructed by ward councillor Shaine Griqua, even though he arrived an hour later than scheduled.

Griqua, however, came under attack from community members who said that he was never available when they needed him.

One resident was told to refrain from making accusations and personal attacks against the mayor when she accused Matika of “sharing money with the Guptas”.

Community members bombarded the mayoral committee with a barrage of service delivery complaints ranging from the lack of basic services to the lack of street lights and development in the areas, as well as the high prevalence of drug dealers.

“We decided to protest because no one is prepared to listen to our complaints. The taps are too far for the elderly to collect water. Our homes become flooded when it rains, we are tired of fighting for our basic needs.”

They also pleaded that the shanties that they had erected not be demolished.

Matika acknowledged that the communities were resorting to extreme measures to highlight their grievances.

“These areas are included in the Integrated Development Plan. We are busy paving Colville. Communities should not have to burn tyres because the stormwater canal is overgrown with weeds. We will make sure that it is cleaned on a weekly basis. A tap will be installed before Friday next week. Everyone should have access to water. We will need another three weeks to look at the toilets,” said Matika.

“The area also has to be a registered ward in order for us to apply to the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) for the installation of electricity. A time frame cannot be provided as we will have to await an answer from Nersa before we get the go ahead.”

Matika also visited residents in Lerato Park yesterday.