'Caring' government has punished the victims of corruption
The Times Editorial: The continuing demolition of houses in Lenasia, south of Johannesburg, shows how the government is quick to act against the weak but unable to deal with corruption within its own ranks.
The statement by Gauteng housing MEC Ntombi Mekgwe that the decision to demolish the properties was part of the fight against corruption is a slap in the face for the families whose houses have been reduced to rubble.
"As a caring government, we have always maintained that our decision was correct, and that ours was a fight against corruption and organised crime, which robs our poor people of the opportunity to own a home," Mekgwe said yesterday.
But those who were hoodwinked into buying government land are left with shattered dreams. It would have been better if Mekgwe and her administration had acted with zeal to trace and find the corrupt officials involved.
It does not help to say you are "a caring government" when you are unable to stop corruption in its tracks.
The stands on which the houses were built were apparently sold fraudulently for between R2500 and R95000.
Thabo Malekete, who received notification that his house would be demolished, said yesterday that when he bought the land the deal had seemed legitimate and he did not suspect wrongdoing.
"The man took my ID book and said he needed it to register with the housing department. He had maps and stand numbers; on the land [illustrated] were pipes for water and lines for electricity. It all seemed to be legal."
The state should have traced, arrested and charged all those involved in the sales, irrespective of whether they are inside or outside the government.
This sad saga should serve as a warning to people always to double-check deals before parting with their hard-earned money.
Information should be made available early by the authorities, especially when it comes to housing developments.