Sowetan: MEC under siege over ‘false promise’

MEC under siege over ‘false promise’
23 September 2009
Anna Majavu

Tenants await ‘their’ houses

NEW Western Cape housing MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela is on a collision course with backyard residents from Mandela Park in Khayelitsha.

The tenants have accused him of breaking a promise to give them houses in a new development.

But Madikizela has counter-accused residents of causing a R1million worth of damage to houses during a weekend protest.

About 23 people were arrested during the weekend protest and freed on Monday after the state withdrew its case and the residents’ attorney, Sharfudin Parker, laid charges against the police for unlawful arrest.

But a furious Madikizela yesterday visited the senior prosecutor at the Khayelitsha magistrate’s court to find out why the charges had been dropped. He said he would not rest until the alleged vandals had been punished.

Mandela Park resident Mabuti Mtyida told Sowetan that the protest was the result of Madikizela’s promise at a public meeting a few weeks ago that he would give 20 of the 53 new houses to Mandela Park backyard dwellers.

The remaining 33 houses were to be handed over to backyard tenants from Gugulethu and Khayelitsha’s Site C.

Mtyida’s statement was backed by journalists who had attended the meeting.

Mtyida said there had been no use of petrol bombs whatsoever during the protest as alleged, and slammed the MEC for threatening residents’ rights to freedom of expression.

Victoria Balintuwa told Sowetan that she was forced to build shacks outside her small two-bedroom house to accommodate her family of five children and four grandchildren.

“I still have my sons with me in the backyard. We have these hokkies that catch fire. We expected our kids to be housed in Mandela Park because we don’t want them to stay far from us,” Balintuwa said.

Madikizela denied that he had ever promised backyarders houses.

“I explained that of the 53 houses recently completed, only 30 beneficiaries could be located. If the department failed to trace the beneficiaries Mandela Park backyarders would be considered,” he said.

Abahlali baseMjondolo Western Cape representative Mzonke Poni said: “Mandela Park backyarders have never benefitted from a single scheme in Mandela Park since they moved there 20 years ago. Residents should be consulted directly, and not through the ANC or Sanco,” Poni said.

Madikizela took over the MEC’s post after the elections this year. He worked as Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille’s media officer when she was mayor of Cape Town.

During this time he was the UDM’s Cape Town regional secretary but in September 2008 he was reportedly expelled for “moonlighting” for the DA.