Dreams demolished: iLIVE

19 November 2012 - 02:05 By Farouk Jardine, Ennerdale
Lenasia Extension 13 residents feel done over by the Gauteng housing department after their homes were reduced to rubble Picture: ALON SKUY
Lenasia Extension 13 residents feel done over by the Gauteng housing department after their homes were reduced to rubble Picture: ALON SKUY

Last year, the DA tried to justify its building open toilets in the Western Cape. This year, the ANC is attempting the same manoeuvre after houses were demolished in Lenasia.

Did the working class not suffer enough under apartheid for them to be further abused today?

The Gauteng housing department has not been transparent about its reasons for demolishing. In 1996, I was involved in the first RDP housing project that was undertaken by the department. I was part of the initiative on behalf of Ennerdale and Lawley.

The Public-Owned Service Sites-programme covered Ennerdale, Lawley, Lenasia South and Lenasia Extension 13. Its construction was contracted to previously disadvantage builders.

The builders had one-man operations and lacked funds and resources. You can imagine their joy when they were informed they would be building RDP houses. Ennerdale and Lawley were supposed to get more than 200 houses, but fewer than 30 were built.

The builders were given a raw deal by the department - they had to use money they did not have and waited months before being remunerated. The programme became a failure, and the department dropped it.

The department also had another initiative running in which it allowed small developers to sell and market stands in the mentioned areas. Again, no financial assistance was given. Also, during that period, the department had management changes and each new director would alter the rules. That affected existing agreements with developers. The rot continues.

I have a document proving that stands, allocated for Public-Owned Service Sites , already had houses on them. Yet the department pleads ignorance about the Lenasia debacle.

It is also selective with its facts. Yes, it may have informed residents that the stands were not "legally" obtained, but it also chose to negotiate with residents.

The manner in which the department used its court order is suspect. When the order was challenged, the then MEC made a written request to residents that they withdraw their court case so a solution may be sought.

In January this year, the residents withdrew their court application and entered into negotiations with the housing department.

But, once again, because of management changes, there was disregard for agreements. The department is negotiating in bad faith and has betrayed residents. Brandishing a court order is immaterial when one considers the aforesaid.

The Constitutional Court has ruled that, in some cases, eviction is unlawful. It thus appears that the same people who advised the DA to build open toilets have been misguiding the ANC to demolish houses.

The premier's statements that this will send a strong message to others is an absolute joke.