Relocation threatens Honingklip residents and world heritage site

Patrick Lipudi, Executive Mayor of Mogale City, addressing the Honingklip community on Plot 11.

Various confusing messages surrounding the relocation of the Mtombo informal settlement (near Cradlestone Mall) to Plot 11 in Honingklip surfaced and caused some outrage among community members who live and work in the area.

Patrick Lipudi, Executive Mayor of Mogale City visited Plot 11 yesterday, 13 September, to address both the messages and the circumstances relating to the allocation of the ground to residents of Ward 39 in Honingklip.

“Absa Bank has issued a warrant of eviction for the people living on the grounds next to the mall because they are illegal squatters,” said Lipudi.

Residents and business owners from the Honingklip area were decidedly angry during Executive Mayor, Patrick Lipudi’s response to the relocation debacle.

“Mogale City simply suggested that the residents be moved to Plot 11 and no final plans have been made to do so. We have not even started the relocation process.”

Lipudi said he realised people are not happy. “We realise that we need to properly consult with the community before making this move.”

Also read: ‘Those houses are meant for us’

He made it clear that no one will be moved until the municipality has properly consulted with the community.

“I sincerely apologise for the fact that you got the information from the streets instead of from the municipality.”

He did however inform the community that it was the municipality’s responsibility to take care of everyone – “foreigners and South Africans, all of them are human beings.”

The crowd who gathered around the mayor got visibly angry and said the land belonged to them.

One of the members of the community said he was promised he could move to this land as soon as it was developed.

Listen to the sound clip from the meeting here:

 

“With all due respect Mr Mayor, we’ve been promised this land for more than 12 years. If you have not developed the land in this time, how would you develop it within a few months? And why would it be allocated to people who are not even legal citizens of South Africa?” the man (who was part of a group of people from Ward 39 who have waited to be relocated to Plot 11) asked.

Lipudi responded by saying their ultimate goal is to build houses for the community, but because the matter is so pressing, temporary structures will be erected to house those who are relocated.

Zillah Maguire, councillor for Ward 39, said one of her concerns is that they will be dealing with a massive issue once development starts. “Where will the new temporary people go? The site development plans have already been approved and there is simply no space allocated for more people on the property. Changing the plans now will be incredibly expensive and it won’t be the first change for the plans.”

Also read: Efforts to move informal settlement behind Cradlestone Mall halted

She said all they are currently waiting for to initiate the development is for is bulk services to be delivered on Plot 11.

“I am also concerned that if the people move to Plot 11, it will be on a site and service basis. We are already battling to service Ward 39 as it is, and I fear this will place more strain on the demand in the area.

Lipudi then reminded everyone to not forget that the economy is bad and they might not be able to build houses immediately.

Clearly angry Ward 39 community members listen to Patrick Lipudi, Executive Mayor of Mogale City as he addresses them.

Another member of the public who has a business in Honingklip inquired about the value of an informal settlement in the area since Lipudi had stated in his opening address that the ground is set to benefit the people of the area.

“Now please tell me how an informal settlement in the area will benefit us? Because I presume that with an informal settlement, crime will go up,” the man asked.

Lipudi, who was visibly upset by the claim, said the community cannot assume that an informal settlement would cause a spike in crime. The crowd was decidedly angry and more than half of them yelled remarks at the mayor.

“I’ve only been mayor for three or four months now, but I promise that nothing will happen to this ground until we all agree,” Lipudi responded.

He also said he will return on 26 September to resolve the issues further.

Afterwards various angry members of the public informed the News that the ground on which the Mtombo informal settlement is located belongs to Absa Bank, and that they believe the Bank should be responsible for the relocation of the squatters.

The entrance to Plot 11 in Honingklip.

A resident of the area said that if the Bank wants to move the squatters to Plot 11, the Bank should develop the grounds itself.

One of the main concerns community members have is the preservation of the Cradle of Humankind, next to which Plot 11 is located.

“There’s a wetland that divides the plot from the heritage site and we fear that without proper sewage systems, that water will become polluted, and affect the heritage site.”

The News is still awaiting feedback from Absa Bank about the situation.

Do you perhaps have more information pertaining to this story? Email us at [email protected] or phone us on 011 955 1130.

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  AUTHOR
Bianca Pindral
Journalist

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