Polokwane Municipality has allegedly not yet established a dispute resolution committee as prescribed by the Legislature’s Public Participation and Petitions Committee last year during a public hearing.
People who are living in and were previously relocated from the Disteneng area, asked the committee to visit the area where they were previously living, forcefully relocated from and where some of the original residents have now been allotted stands by the municipality. Committee members also visited a “waiting area”, where former Disteneng residents are waiting to be allocated stands.
The Disteneng dispute resolution committee to be established by the Municipality, is to investigate complaints of former residents who are still waiting for stands, some already since 2011 and 2013 and others maintaining they have been on waiting lists for stands but have been overlooked in the allocation of stands or whose names have disappeared from the lists, according to them. They want their names as submitted per list with an affidavit to the municipality, to be verified. They also accused councillors of taking bribes to allocate stands to some people as a matter of priority.
Four areas were visited by the Petitions Committee, namely “Nkandla,” the area where former residents are now illegally occupying land adjacent to the “old’ Disteneng, two areas where residents were resettled back and where they now own their allocated stands in extension 78 as well as extension 106, the “holding area” where hundreds of households are still waiting to be allocated land. Some have been staying in extension 106 since 2011. Many residents claim they have been relocated illegally and forcefully.
The residents have asked the committee to help them settle their disputes with the municipality, who have been summonsed before the committee last year, but nothing has happened yet, and a dispute settlement committee comprising representatives of the residents and the municipality has not yet been formed as prescribed by the committee. Residents claimed they have been writing letters to the Municipality time and again, but have not received any answers. Living conditions are harsh, with one of the areas allegedly housing 100 households only having two toilets among them all. Nkandla residents, seen as illegally occupying land, have no roads and no sanitation or water.
The eastern part of extension 78 has 4 taps and 2 toilets to be shared among 300 households. There is no electricity and the one toilet was found to be situated in a single woman’s yard, opposite a tavern.
Chairperson of the Petitions committee Elias Nong said that these residents at least have water, but that they have been allocated stands and their situation is temporary. He said temporary toilets would bring relief until services are formalised. He told residents that the municipality’s resources are scarce and they cannot afford to address all the issues at one stage.
Nong said RDP houses would be built in future and suggested the residents talk to the municipality to assist with refuse removal, or burn refuse and ask the municipality to assist with temporary toilets. He said councillors were invited to accompany the committee during their oversight visit, but did not pitch.
At extension 106, “the waiting area,” the stench from the few toilets was almost unbearable. People were resettled here from Disteneng and Mohlakaneng, and some have been living here since 2011. Of the 500 to 600 families, it is alleged that only 86 families qualify to be relocated back to Disteneng.
One of the residents from Nkandla described themselves as “Polokwane’s forgotten children, the throw-aways.”
Comment from the Polokwane Municipality as to why the dispute resolutions committee has not yet been established has not been received by the time of going to print.
Story, photos & video: NELIE ERASMUS