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'DA evictions bring SA into disrepute': Lindiwe Sisulu threatens legal action

'We will take you to court — each one of you, personally'

21 July 2020 - 17:39 By THABO MOKONE
Human settlements minister Lindiwe Sisulu says the DA has 'delivered the most number of evictions in this country' and 'the worst cases of inhumanity'. File photo.
Human settlements minister Lindiwe Sisulu says the DA has 'delivered the most number of evictions in this country' and 'the worst cases of inhumanity'. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images / Lauren Mulligan

Human settlements minister Lindiwe Sisulu has vowed to take the DA-led governments of the Cape Town and the Western Cape, and some of the party's MPs, to court should forceful evictions continue.

Sisulu made the threat on Tuesday during virtual sitting of the National Assembly, where the spending plans of the human settlements, water and sanitation department were under discussion.

During the debate, DA MP Emma Powell said Sisulu's department had a long history of failing to deliver basic services such as low-cost housing and drinking water, but was now quick to blame its many years of failure on the Covid-19 pandemic.

Powell said it was regrettable that the budget tabled by Sisulu's department showed that the human settlements grant would be reduced by R1.7bn as part of the government's reprioritisation of funds as it moves to mitigate the socio-economic impacts of the coronavirus.

“This is the money that provinces use to build formal houses. To make matters worse, when these budget cuts were presented to our portfolio committee last week, the department didn’t even know how these cuts were going to affect housing delivery in eight of our nine provinces, because the only province that had submitted its revised housing delivery plans was the Western Cape,” said Powell.

But this did not sit well with Sisulu, who hit back by saying the DA-led Western Cape was delivering nothing but forceful evictions that had cast the country in a bad light across the world.

This was in reference to an incident in which Cape Town metro police officers were captured on video this month forcefully removing a Khayelitsha man from his shack during a cold winter day while he was undressed. The DA has claimed there is more to the video than meets the eye and has instituted an investigation. The video went viral on local and international media.

“What have they delivered? They have delivered the most number of evictions in this country,” said a visibly irritated Sisulu about the DA. "They've delivered worst cases of inhumanity,” she added, as one MP shouted “pota pota” — an allusion to the much-criticised portable toilet system the city has rolled out in informal settlements around the Cape Flats.

“They have put us on the world map. Internationally you see us on the screen with the evictions that have been occasioned by the Western Cape government.

“They say here that they are the only one who provided a plan to the department of human settlements. She's telling a blue lie. They've not. They've actually asked for an extension. That must be retracted — no lies are allowed.

“Here is something that you must know: the Western Cape has not spent in the last year, in Cape Town, a total of R874m when our people are out there in shacks. This is the amount of money that has been taken back by the Treasury.

“We've done everything. We've provided this country the highest number of housing units that you can find in the world. Go check it on Google, or anywhere else. We're very proud of what this government has done.

“Finally, I must warn you that should you continue with evictions in the way that you've done and bring this government into disrepute, we will take you to court — each one of you, personally — especially you, Emma,” said Sisulu, as the DA MP rose on a point of order and DA and ANC MPs heckled each other.

“Chairperson, could you ask the minister to address me by my formal title and not by my first name. We're in a sitting of the house. Further, I would be willing to provide the minister with the evidence of my assertion,” said Powell.

But the assembly's chairperson Madala Ntombela dismissed the DA MP, saying her objection was invalid.