Councillor lambasts Council over land

Alex's shack and. Photo:Leseho Manala

Alex councillor Adolph Marema urged the Joburg City Council to expedite the acquisition of vacant land in nearby Frankenworld for housing development for desperate home seekers.

Desperate home seekers construct houses on pavements. Photo:Leseho Manala

Hundreds of homeless families have been languishing in shacks and transit camps for over 20 years following failed housing promises by government and Council. The families who remain on the housing waiting list are said to have lost out on RDP houses allegedly allocated fraudulently to South Africans and foreigners. Some houses are said to be rented out by owners who opt to return to their shacks where they are also landlords of several shacks.

Marema said the untenable housing issue has created a tense and explosive situation with occasional running battles between the police and residents trying to occupy any vacant land while Council seemingly dithers without a solution. “Council and the provincial department of housing ought to act boldly and purchase the vacant land owned by Wits since 1919, or expropriate it in accordance with Section 25 of the Constitution,” he said after the university seemingly set unrealistic demands for its acquisition.

He said Council rejected the conditions which included that houses be built for rentals to raise money to support needy university students and that it should not devalue the surrounding homes. “It’s objectionable as the houses need to be of acceptable standards and will be permanent homes for equally poor people. They will include high-rise and other building types and also must promote social cohesion.”

Marema said the already dire situation will worsen with the impending rainy season as many victims of last year’s deadly and costly Jukskei River floods have rebuilt their homes on the river bank. “This in addition to the unrelenting winter shack fires which also cause death and the loss of valuable assets of the home seekers,” he said.

Alex’s shack and. Photo:Leseho Manala

“Council’s failure has also led to councillors being wrongfully accused while they are not responsible for planning and do not control budgets or bylaw implementation.” This he said in reference to Council’s failure to effect a court order against illegal shack construction in the Setswetla informal settlement near the river, laxity in halting shack construction in flood-prone areas and on pavements and in servitudes.

Marema also urged councillors to be forthright when engaging with residents to stop the perception and allegations of their involvement in shady deals in the allocation of houses. “Our sole mandate is to ensure the residents receive services entitled to them, including housing.”

Details: Councillor Adolph Marema 079 617 1957.

Read: Councillor’s Corner: What are ward committees roles in service delivery?

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  AUTHOR
Leseho Manala

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