The Witness: Jika Joe [Ash Road] residents force council’s hand

Jika Joe residents force council’s hand
21 Sep 2008
Thamsanqa Magubane

The Msunduzi Municipality was yesterday forced to allocate the municipal
houses intended for flood victims at the Jika Joe settlement two weeks
earlier than expected. This came after furious flood victims forced
their way into the site, threatening to break the locks and move in.

The residents decided to invade the houses after the tents they had
inhabited for the past six months — since their shacks were washed away
by floods earlier this year — were flooded again this weekend.

Sixty families have been living in the tents set up near Ash Road since
the beginning of the year.

Prompted by the suffering they endured over the weekend, they decided to
force the municipality to allocate the houses to them. They said they
felt they had been living in tents for far too long, which they said was
not a conducive environment.

“All we want is a decent place to sleep as living in the tents is not
ideal” said Bonginkosi Khumalo, spokesman for the Enhlanganweni
organisation, which represents the people of the settlement, when The
Witness visited the area.

“We had been promised that we will move into the houses last month. That
was postponed without any valid reason and now we are being told we have
to wait another two weeks. However, we don’t have two weeks, as there
are people with small children living in the freezing tents.”

The residents also accused the municipality and the ward councillor of
ignoring their pleas and of “extortion”. They described the
municipality’s demand that they pay R50 in rent for the houses as
“extortionate”. The R50 has to be paid before the houses can be

Peter Green, the councillor for Ward 33, confirmed that the houses were
allocated yesterday.

However, he denied that the council has ignored the community pleas.

Green added that the R50 rental is a legitimate charge levied to cover

“These are municipal houses, not government ones. The R50 is a charge
for the use of municipal property,” said Green.