Minister Simmers condemns those denying Joe Slovo residents to move
It is a complete disgrace that yesterday, a small group of unruly Joe Slovo informal settlement community members, in Langa, denied 56 other residents from the same community the opportunity to move to their homes in Forest Village. Part of those that should be moving are two disabled people, of which one is 62-years old, while there are also a 63 and 71-year old in this group.
It is alleged this group demanded that the transport contract for the relocations from Joe Slovo to Forest Village, be given to them. Although the appointed contractor offered them job opportunities as labourers, they rejected it and insisted that the entire contract, which includes the provision of vehicles and transporting the beneficiaries, become theirs. Furthermore, and in the presence of the South African Police Services (SAPS), they also threatened to stone and set any removal trucks on fire when they enter the community.
I am saddened and quite frankly disgusted by this thug-like behaviour, as people who are in dire need of an improved living condition are now being denied due to the selfishness of a small group. I condemn their actions in the strongest possible terms.
The 56 beneficiaries, who would’ve moved yesterday and today, are part of the 89 that are to move into Forest Village this week. We are facing a mammoth task in our fight against COVID-19 and these improved living conditions for the beneficiaries would strengthen their resolve against the virus, yet it is their own community members depriving them of these opportunities.
I commend the SAPS for attempting to engage the group to avoid any conflict or violence, but given that this group is set on embarking on criminal activity, I call on SAPS to arrest anyone who is involved in this intimidation so that they can face the full might of the law. I will also be writing to the Provincial Police Commissioner, so that her office can ensure that the SAPS officers not only protect those who needs to move, but to also clamp down on these thugs.
I will not allow lawlessness to deny vulnerable and deserving beneficiaries the opportunity to move into their new homes. Those with genuine concerns should engage the relevant platforms, structures and bodies, such as the Ward Councillors and the Project Steering Committee (PSC) to air their grievances so that they may be addressed. It is critical to also note that potential contractors should be registered on the vendor and central supplier databases or the various state frameworks, whilst also meeting all the relevant requirements to be considered for contract opportunities.
This action is further alarming, as these incidents come barely a month after one of the community liaison officers (CLO’s) at the Boys Town development was shot and killed, while on her way to work and also after another group sought to intimidate our contractor at the Forest Village development.
This clearly demonstrates a concerted effort by some to derail our plans to improve people’s lives. They should however be aware that we are steadfast and committed to our people who need these opportunities as their wellbeing is our primary concern. I also urge all communities where these unruly elements are attempting to deny them an improvement in their lives to assist the law enforcement agencies by reporting such incidents.
As the Western Cape Government, we remain committed to accelerating human settlement delivery, while promoting social inclusion through the development of integrated, resilient, safe and sustainable human settlements in an open opportunity society.