Free State shack dwellers march for land rights

They threatened to shut down the N8 Highway if the mayor ignores their demands

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Shack dwellers from 17 informal settlements in Botshabelo, east of Bloemfontein marched to the Mangaung Metro Municipality’s offices on Friday. Photo: Becker Semela

Hundreds of residents from 17 informal settlements in Botshabelo, east of Bloemfontein marched to the Mangaung Metro Municipality’s offices on Friday. They are demanding that the municipality stop referring to them as occupiers and give them land rights.

The marchers had demanded to give their memorandum to Mayor Gregory Nthatisi or Mayco member Ntombi Nhlapo.

Community leader Moleboheng Jamjam said they are demanding that all informal settlements be formalised. He accused ward councillors of selling serviced housing sites.

“This shows that the ward councillors in Botshabelo do not want us to have formal residential land. We also demand the proper registration of the formal sites for all of us,” said Jamjam.

She said they were disappointed by officials’ inaction following a meeting between leaders with the office of the mayor earlier this year. “We are very disappointed that some of the agreements are not honoured. Ward councillors have publicly expressed that they don’t want residents to get residential land,” said Jamjam.

The residents further demanded that the mayor and human settlements department sign a memorandum of understanding instead of making verbal promises over services and housing provisions.

“Political interference was anticipated and is going to derail the land programme, it must stop.”

Mayco member Nhlapo, promised that residents’ demands would be considered. “We are going to ensure that sites are allocated to the rightful people from the informal settlements. We will investigate the allegation of the sites being sold,” said Nhlapo.

The protesters have given the municipality a week to respond, else, Jamjam said, “we shall shutdown the N8 highway”.

TOPICS:  Housing

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