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The debacle surrounding the RDP homes in Siyahlahla has now reached boiling point, with imminent violence looming over the community. This follows a meeting on Sunday, 28 February 2021, where approximately 60 community members gathered to discuss the steps forward in returning to their homes, from which they had been forcefully evicted.
On 14 January 2021, the Newcastillian – Online News reported how a mob was responsible for allegedly driving people out of their RDP homes. At the time, a resident explained how he was left homeless due to the group breaking down his front door, kicking him out, leaving him watching as a mob member commandeered the house for herself.
Now, with more people being unfairly evicted, residents explain the time has finally come for action. Wishing to remain anonymous, a community member explains, “We established a group consisting of people who were evicted from their homes, and we are now demanding answers from the Newcastle Municipality.”
Looking into the matter, the municipality began investigations in October 2020, with the government entity addressing claims of alleged corruption in the procurement of the RDP houses.
However, Siyahlala residents claim they are nowhere closer to receiving answers from the municipality. “We want to know what is going on. It is urgent, as our homes are being destroyed by those who moved in. Also, some of us were forced to leave furniture behind when we were evicted; what happens to our property if it is destroyed?”
With residents not able to gain direction nor answers, the homeowner declares residents are willing to get physical, if necessary, to get their homes back. “If we do not get any results from the municipality, we intend to go into our homes and will use force if we have to.”
Additionally, he affirms, with a plan of action in place, the municipality will need to take responsibility for what is to come. “Every drop of blood that is shed will be on the mayor’s hands. He has seen there is a potential war on the rise, but nothing is being done.”
However, the residents claim they understand the mob’s concerns and the Siyahlahla community as a whole. But those who were evicted stress, the mob needs to look at the situation from the homeowners’ perspective, especially those who followed the RDP houses’ necessary steps.
Following the meeting on Sunday, it was decided residents will put their plans on hold for the time being following discussions with mob leaders, seeing the two groups looking at possible ways to resolve the situation peacefully.
Responding to the dire situation, Newcastle Mayor Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba is calling for a sense of calm. He points out; the municipality has met with the residents on more than one occasion, addressing their concerns and conducting a thorough report into the allegations of corruption.
He admitted the list created to allocate RDP homes to residents has indeed been tampered with, and the municipality will be updating the public on the report’s findings. However, before addressing the community, he says, “The report first needs to go to Newcastle Municipality’s Executive Committee (EXCO), and then we can address the residents.”
The mayor further reminds the community that the municipality needs to diligently sift through the matter due to the allegation’s seriousness. “We can’t investigate 600 houses in a week.”
While admitting some of the allegations proved to be accurate, he urges the community to refrain from the use of violence—stating the municipality has been in discussions with the police to ensure the Siyahlahla community’s safety.
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