Tshwane mayor come face-to-face with ex-residents of infamous city centre block
Sipho Mabena | 2017-03-15 15:44:43.0
Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga outside his offices on Van der Walt street, Pretoria.
Image by: Sipho Mabena
Tshwane mayor Solly Msimang came face-to-face with former residents of the infamous Schubart Park building in the Pretoria city centre on Wednesday‚ the first time he has met them since taking office last year.
The residents handed over a list of demands‚ including that he honour the court order instructing the administration to renovate the dilapidated building and move them back in.
The municipality systematically evicted about 700 families from the council-owned building in September 2011 following skirmishes sparked by the then ANC administration’s decision to cut services to the building.
Residents failed to convince the Pretoria High Court that their eviction was illegal and that they should be allowed to re-occupy the complex. The court however ordered the municipality to offer them alternative accommodation.
The residents then attempted to appeal the decision‚ but both the High Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal refused them leave to appeal the judgment.
They then petitioned the highest court in the land‚ the Constitutional Court‚ which upheld their appeal in October 2012. But this victory failed to force the municipality to budge so they stayed in their alternative accommodation around the city.
Their leader‚ Mashao Chauke‚ told the mayor through a loud hailer to either honour the court order‚ renovate the building and reinstate them in the building or give them RDP houses or serviced stands.
“We have requested several meetings with you Mr Mayor to tell you about the injustices. Services were cut to the building as a strategic move to evict us. [The previous administration] took advantage of our poor condition. People were promised that renovations would be completed by January 2017‚ but there are no renovations to advance this. Comply with the court order‚” he said . Chauke said they knew the pain of sleeping on the pavements and gave Msimang seven days to respond to their demands.
Some of the residents‚ carrying placards reading ‘consider yourself warned’‚ heaped insults on the mayor‚ labelling him a capitalist and saying he was no god.
Msimang accepted the memorandum before he was escorted to his car as residents shouted for him to address them.
Schubart Park hogged the headlines in September 2011 with violent scenes playing out as residents in protest against the services disconnection hurled stones and bottles at passing motorists before setting the building‚ a mobile toilet and a car parked outside alight.
– TMG Digital/The Times