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Cape Town - Police say “information from ground level” about protection money being paid to the Hard Livings gang by city-contracted construction companies refurbishing flats in Manenberg is not enough to warrant an investigation.
On Sunday, Jeremy Vearey, head of Operation Combat, a police operation targeting gangsterism in the province, said he had been notified of the situation in Manenberg, but needed a statement under oath to officially investigate.
“We received information from ground level which indicated these activities were taking place, but information is information. We need a statement under oath to form the basis of a case docket and then we can investigate,” Vearey said.
Vearey mentioned a report published on Sunday in the Weekend Argus, the Cape Times’s sister newspaper, that revealed an e-mail from safety and security mayoral committee member JP Smith to other city officials, dated December 12, had been leaked.
Smith confirmed this on Sunday. He said he had been made aware of the allegations in December last year.
“In the e-mail, I basically said that all the information we have needs to go to the SAPS because it is a criminal offence in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act and must be criminally prosecuted.
“I made it clear that the dossier be handed over and the complaint made to a senior police officer,” Smith said.
Vearey said: “We have not seen or received any dossier yet.”
Smith said he would be meeting with the city’s human settlements department and the construction companies this week.
“Either we will hire city law enforcement as security or we will select a panel of security companies and choose one to work there,” he said.
Mayco member for human settlements Benedicta van Minnen said the city was investigating two construction companies.
“Initially there was H & I Construction, and now there is Good Hope Construction. We are busy with our investigation and will be meeting again this week to discuss the way forward. The refurbishments will continue this week and we are on track to finish in June,” she said.
Good Hope Construction chief executive Raziek Rajah denied that his company was being investigated.
“It must be made clear that according to the city, we are not under investigation. They have made contact to confirm this.”
Rajah refused to be drawn on whether his workers were asked to pay gangsters protection money.
Attempts to reach H & I Construction for comment proved fruitless.
Cape Town - The City of Cape Town is set to lay criminal charges against “political instigators” of a spate of illegal land invasions which have hit the metropole in recent days.
Metro Police and the SA Police Service officers were called to intervene in at least three land grabs in Khayelitsha, Wallacedene and Kalkfontein in the past week.
“The City is investigating reports of possible political interference pertaining to the Kalkfontein violence but it must be emphasised that a trend of political instigation is already visible in the attempted land invasions which have taken place recently, including in Khayelitsha,” said the City’s mayoral committee member for human settlements Benedicta van Minnen.
“We condemn land invasions and the incitement to invade State- or privately-owned land in the strongest possible terms. We urge residents not to be misled by miscreants who are preying on the poor to build their political profiles and to create havoc in the city.”
On Sunday night, a group of protestors who were prevented from invading land in Kalkfontein, near Kuils River, set a church alight.
“We will not tolerate this behaviour, which is placing strain on the City’s law enforcement agencies, the South African Police Service (SAPS), and the City’s broader service delivery efforts at the expense of law-abiding residents,” said Van Minnen.
“The City will use every available resource at its disposal to prevent land invasions and we will make sure that those who are responsible for any incitement to violence, land invasions and other criminal acts face the full consequences of the law.”
Van Minnen declined to name the politicians the City would be laying charges against regarding the Kalkfontein incident.
The City had, however, already laid charges against Economic Freedom Fighters Western Cape leader Nazier Paulsen who led a group of people to occupy land in Khayelitsha during the Easter weekend.
The City had since managed to remove the structures erected on the land next to the Nolungile railway station.
Law enforcement officers were also called to Wallacedene in Kraaifontein at the weekend. Thirty four structures were removed from the land.
The City on Monday called on private landowners to contact the City and relevant law enforcement agencies if they detect the illegal occupation of land.
“Landowners need to act immediately,” said Van Minnen.
“If landowners or residents are aware of any other illegal activity, such as political instigation or criminality, they must approach the SAPS to conduct an investigation and for assistance.”
Cape Town - Illegal land invasions have spread across Cape Town from Khayelitsha, Kalkfontein near Bonteheuwel and now to Wallacedene in Kraaifontein.
JP Smith, the mayco member of safety and security for the City of Cape Town, said seven people who occupied land illegally in Kalkfontein were arrested on Saturday.
“There were protesters in the area who were burning tyres and throwing stones near the lane of the R300 earlier on Saturday afternoon. And, firemen in Hamilton Estate were also assaulted after trying to put out a fire. One man was injured and the others refused to go back to control the fire because of the danger that they were in,” Smith said.
In light of the sporadic land grabs that took place across the city last week, Smith provided a breakdown of the city’s intervention.
“(A total of) 20 illegal structures and 920 pegs were destroyed in Khayelitsha, 100 pegs were destroyed in Lwandle (Strand). Thirteen illegal structures were demolished in Kalkfontein.”
He said public spaces in Wallacedene were under threat. “More of these illegal structures are being erected. (On Sunday) police will be in the area to stop these structures from disturbing public spaces.”
When the Cape Argus visited Kalkfontein on Sunday, people remained defiant and continued to erect illegal structures, saying they have nowhere else to go.
Elliot Malgas was adamant that he and his family would not move willingly. “We still want to build here. On Saturday, law enforcement demolished our homes but we haven’t got any other place to stay.”
After being evicted, Malgas said: “It was terrible, I am not happy. Everyone here has bought all the materials for their houses, now we have to spend more money to build. I have lost my TV, clothes and even my ID.”
He said this was the third time in one week that their homes were destroyed.
A church was set alight during the violent protest.
“It’s confirmed that the church has been set alight. Apparently it appears it was set alight by protestors,” said police spokesman Colonel Thembinkosi Kinana.
No injuries were reported.
“No arrests have been made so far. The investigation is still ongoing,” said Kinana.
Joshua Njingo, who was shot in the head on Saturday said: “They came to shoot at us while we were building. It’s terrible. The South African law enforcement can’t just come from behind and just shoot you.”
Banele Ntlangani, 22, another Kalkfontein resident, feared losing his eight-month-old baby, Uminati.
“We were busy building and law enforcement came. They said they were here just to break the shacks without people living inside them. Afterwards they surrounded the whole area with hippos and then just broke all the houses.”
Police spokesman Colonel Thembinkosi Kinana said: “Eight protesters were arrested for public violence on Sunday and they are expected to appear in court (Monday).”
Cape Town - A church was set alight during a violent protest in Kalkfontein, near Kuils River, on Sunday evening, Western Cape police said.
“It’s confirmed that the church has been set alight. Apparently it appears it was set alight by protesters,” said police spokesman Colonel Thembinkosi Kinana.
“As I understand it, it’s a continuation of the land invasion protests that were going on the weekend,” he said.
No injuries were reported.
“No arrests have been made so far. The investigation is still ongoing,” said Kinana.
Kinana could not confirm whether the protests were linked to similar protests late in March when a council home rented by a law enforcement officer was petrol-bombed, allegedly by a group of people evicted from land they illegally occupied.
Members of the public order policing unit would remain on the scene, Kinana said.
Since March, the area has seen an invasion to occupy a stretch of land belonging to the city council.
Manenberg, which fuelled gang warfare in the already volatile area.
If the allegations that a city-contracted construction company or companies paid gangsters for security are found to be true, the city, on a mayoral committee member’s admission, could be implicated in contravening the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.
Weekend Argus is in possession of leaked copies of e-mails and minutes of a meeting that show that, despite knowing about the matter in December, the city is still, months later, deciding how to address it.
This week police said they had received complaints from Manenberg residents about the matter, but that no formal statements had been made.
In a leaked e-mail from safety and security mayoral committee member JP Smith to other city officials, dated December 12, Smith said: “The city needs to hand over all the information they have to SAPS around the paying of gangsters by city-contracted housing contractors working on the CRU (Community Residential Units). This is a criminal offence in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act and other legislation, and needs to be criminally prosecuted.
“The city is implicated in this, and we need to make a formal submission to SAPS with all the information we have.”
Smith, in the e-mail, said he had suggested the human settlements department ask the contractors to put in writing what they knew.
He also asked the Metro Police to take the submissions to the police, “so the city has fully disclosed what we know”.
Asked to comment, Smith con-firmed to Weekend Argus he had sent the e-mails, adding that he was trying to alert his colleagues to a housing issue.
This week, various sources told Weekend Argus recent flare-ups in gang violence in Manenberg were rooted in the employment of rival gang members for security by construction companies which were upgrading council flats.
Late last year, this had fuelled fighting between gangs, unhappy with their rivals taking over construction sites, and last week the already tense situation was exacerbated when a hit was put out on an Americans gangster, and his allies then retaliated.
Residents reported that machine guns were used in the fighting.
In a terse response to a list of questions from Weekend Argus about the contractors paying gangsters, the city’s mayoral committee member for human settlements, Benedicta van Minnen, said only: “The city can confirm that an investigation is under way, and the necessary actions will be taken once the outcome of the investigation has been confirmed.”
But details of what has been happening are contained in the leaked e-mails.
In an earlier e-mail from Smith, dated December 2, he said a meeting needed to be set up with the head of one of the construction companies “and the contractors working for human settlements in Manenberg about the protection money being demanded by the Hard Livings, and being paid by one of the contractors”.
Minutes from a meeting between city officials dealing with the Community Residential Units upgrades, held on February 6, were also leaked to Weekend Argus.
The minutes show that a senior safety and security official had attended.
It mentions a “dossier of alleged contraventions” involving Manenberg, and says a Metro Police head advised that a charge should not be lodged at the Manenberg police station, but that a complaint should instead be made to a senior police officer.
But the senior official advised the issue be placed instead on the agenda for when mayor Patricia de Lille had her next monthly meeting with provincial police commissioner Arno Lamoer.
De Lille was then meant to hand over the dossier for Lamoer to investigate at a provincial level.
This week, Lamoer said he did not know about the dossier, and provincial police spokesman Colonel Tembinkosi Kinana said they had not received any such dossier.
De Lille’s spokeswoman Zara Nicholson said the matter was being dealt with “by the relevant authorities”.
On Saturday, police General Jeremy Vearey, who heads up Operation Combat, the provincial police’s operation targeting gangsterism, said some Manenberg residents had complained about construction companies paying gangsters.
“But none of these reports have resulted in statements,” he said.
Vearey said if the allegations and suggestions were found to be true, it could result in charges of racketeering and corruption being investigated.
This week, Raziek Rajah of Good Hope Construction, a company working in Manenberg and which was named in one of Smith’s e-mails, told Weekend Argus that late last year its security providers were checked by police.
Rajah said his company hired employees from a City of Cape Town database that did not specify who was or was not a criminal.
Cape Town - The Western Cape High Court on Friday granted Denel an interim order evicting land invaders who this week occupied land in Khayelistha that belongs to the state-owned arms manufacturer.
Judge Monde Samela explained to the land invaders, who appeared in court without legal representation, that it allowed them until the return date of April 21 to find lawyers to argue their case.
“I explained to them that effectively I am sitting on the fence (in granting an interim order),” he said after allowing the respondents, some of who wore shirts bearing the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) logo, to ask him questions to clarify their legal position.
“In isiXhosa, one who sits on the fence is a monkey. So he told me I am a monkey and I said he must be careful now,” Samela chuckled as he translated the exchange to Denel’s lawyers.
On Monday, some 250 people seized land near Nolungile train station in Khayelitsha and began building shacks. The EFF said they were facilitating the process.
Police intervened and Denel, in a first urgent court application, obtained an interdict preventing the erection of further structures on the contested land.
Denel’s legal team on Friday told the court they were seeking the second order to maintain the status quo at the site, which most of the invaders left after their structures were removed, and to gain added protection should there be a fresh attempt to invade the land.
They said they would bring more substantiating documentation on April 1.
Regional EFF official Tlhabanelo Diholo said the party would try to assist the squatters with finding lawyers but did not have money for the legal fees in the party coffers.
“We are not steering this process, we have just tried to assist the community wherever we can,” he said.
After the order was granted some 30 Khayelitsha residents sang protest songs outside the court building.
Student Vugile Thando held a poster proclaiming: “People of Azania take back your land, the rest will follow.”
He said he was not a member of the EFF but was among the roughly 250 people who had invaded the land at the beginning of the week and began building shacks.
“I’m from Khayelitsha site C. I took all my materials and my sleeping bag and they broke it all down and now I’m homeless again.”
Cape Town - The loud bangs of stun grenades filled the air signalling the start of evictions outside the Nolungile train station in Khayelitsha on Wednesday morning.
While squatters threatened to stand their ground, waving tools they had used to erect 20 structures on the private property on Monday, they were quickly dispersed by a large police contingent.
Led by members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), squatters said they had taken over the land because of overcrowding in the township’s Site C.
Major Mali, who built a shack on Monday, said the land had been vacant since 1985.
Police arrived on Wednesday morning brandishing what appeared to be an eviction notice. There was resistance from the protesters, many waving crowbars, spades, sticks and pangas as they shouted for the police to leave.
While some of the shacks had been completed, many were nothing but skeletal wooden frames jutting from the pockmarked earth in between tufts of yellow grass.
When police moved to dismantle the structures they acted swiftly, firing rubber bullets at a group of people camped in the bushes with rocks in their hands.
Protesters at first stood their ground, but the first of two stun grenades sent them screaming towards the property’s boundary line with the township.
Within 20 minutes the shacks had been brought down, demolition crews pulling them apart and hammering at the tinder buried in the ground.
Residents watched from the train station. But as the last structure fell, their interest waned and the enthusiastic crowd began to thin.
However, some minutes later a band of protesters set tyres, rubbish and debris alight on a road nearby.
The City of Cape Town has outlined plans to clamp down on any land invaders attempting to occupy the vacant field in Khayelitsha.
Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith vowed to take action against illegal occupants who erected shacks on privately owned land in the TR section on Tuesday morning.
“We will be laying charges against anyone who can be identified putting up shacks on the privately owned land. They have been warned about this on Monday,” said Smith.
He added that the land invasions weredrawing much-needed police resources away from gang flashpoints. “We had two very violent gang flare-ups in Manenberg and Ottery. There was machine gun fire. This land grab pulled resources away from that.”
Pockets of land across the city have been under threat from members of the EFF and Ses’khona People’s Rights Movement over the past two days. EFF Western Cape leader Nazir Paulsen said they supported residents’ invasion of the land.
“The EFF supports the residents as they deserve this land to build bigger housing. There is nothing wrong with what we are doing. The city can contact my lawyers if they have a problem,” said Paulsen
The DA condemned criminal acts of land invasion by the EFF and welcomed any charges against Paulsen. “As the ringleader of the EFF action and member of the Western Cape Parliament, Nazir Paulsen has encouraged and facilitated criminal conduct.
“The DA welcomes the City of Cape Town laying criminal charges against Nazir Paulsen, and urges the SAPS to investigate…”
Over 2 million state-subsidised houses, popularly known as "RDPs", built since 1994 "are nothing but incubators of poverty".
That is the view of Gauteng Premier David Makhura, who was speaking at the launch of a giant provincial housing project in Illovo, northern Johannesburg, yesterday.
Makhura blamed the collapse of planning at all levels of the government for the state's haphazard approach to housing in the past 20 years.
"We've had a virtual collapse of planning. Municipalities say they are planning with [environmental impact assessments] but they are just wasting time," said Makhura.
"Serious planning will stop private-sector, municipal and provincial projects that are not desirable. We are breaking away from the old mode of development of small projects and [will]develop large-scale projects of no less than 15000 units."
Makhura said his administration would deliver 700000 houses in four years, relying on funding of R11.2-billion annually - R6-billion from the Gauteng department of human settlements, R5-billion from the Urban Settlement Development Grant to Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni, and a R200-million grant from the government.
Gauteng, he said, would research the possibility of providing serviced stands to individuals, allowing them to build their own houses.
"We are doing away with poverty-stricken human settlements in which the day [after taking possession of a house] people have nowhere to go. What's called 'RDP houses' is a bad dream. There are no trees, no proper infrastructure and no integration," he said.
Makhura said old-style development was concerned with increasing the number of houses built, with little regard to efficient use of land and sustainable economic activity.
He said that one of the problems with the old approach was that the government built houses without knowing exactly for whom they were intended.
"We have been building houses without properly knowing whom we were building for. We want to make sure that when we build these houses the ownership is beyond dispute."
In place of the "poverty-stricken human settlements" "mega housing projects" will establish residential areas of from 15000 to 60000 units, complete with amenities such as schools, parks, health facilities, infrastructure and "light industry".
Although private developers are being encouraged to take part - 43 companies pledged their support for the projects yesterday - approval of their plans will depend on whether they cater for low-cost housing.
Makhura promised the private sector that all environmental impact assessments would be approved in three months.
Cape Town - About 100 residents from TR Section in Khayelitsha invaded a vacant piece of privately owned land near the Nolungile train station in Site C as threats of widespread land invasions were made on Monday.
Resident Rooi Nobatana said the people were taking the land “by force” because they had nowhere to go.
“We are paying rent in our siblings’ small shacks and there’s no space. If there is a fire in one of the shacks, the fire brigade cannot get to us and everything burns down.
“If the government can just provide us with this land then we will build our own houses,” said Nobatana.
Another resident, Nomzamo Nkolisa, said she decided to invade the land because they had not received answers after a seven-year wait for RDP houses.
“The houses that we are living in now are too small, we need basic services such as water, sanitation and electricity.
“We reported the lack of services and rat infestation to our ward councillor but nothing is being done.”
Nkolisa said she runs a crèche from her home and needed the space to run it effectively.
Mayco member for Human Settlements Benedicta van Minnen condemned the threats of a city-wide land invasion by the Ses’khona movement and the EFF.
“We condemn land invasions and the incitement to invade state or privately owned land in the strongest possible terms.
“Political instigators should start taking responsibility for the conditions that arise in settlements that are borne from invasions,” she said.
“I urge our residents not to be duped by organisations who claim to have their best interests at heart, while in reality they are actually driving a political or financial agenda.
“Some land invasions, which occur on a small scale and in an ad hoc manner, are borne purely of need – but others we consider to be orchestrated invasions and part of a general trend to invade both public and private land across Cape Town as part of a politically motivated campaign to make the city ungovernable.”
Van Minnen said authorities were not able to remove the people from the land as it was owned by Denel.
Denel’s spokeswoman, Vuyelwa Qinga, said on Monday: “We are not aware of the incident, but we will do our own investigations and see how to follow up with the situation.”
Ses’khona leader Andile Lili said he was aware that members from his organisation invaded land, adding that they will continue to do so until their demands were responded to.
“We don’t see anything wrong with it. We will take over any open land all over Cape Town, even as far as Atlantis and Grabouw. We have hundreds of thousands of members and the police will not have the capacity to control us.
“The government knows there are fires and floods and yet they don’t do anything.
“Our people need housing and it will be very difficult for them to stop us.
“We will overpower the police if they want to move us.”
Cape Town – A fire in the Wallacedene informal settlement in Kraaifontein in the early hours of Saturday morning claimed the life of one man and left several dozen people displaced, the City of Cape Town’s disaster risk management team said.
The victim was identified as Buyisa Nofemela.
According to the city’s disaster risk management spokesperson, Charlotte Powell, 23 adults and 14 children were displaced.
An NGO would provide the affected families with food parcels, blankets and mattresses.
The families would also be provided with “starter kits” to rebuild their homes.
Cape Town - The City of Cape Town on Tuesday marked the start of a new building project near Delft that would see the eventual construction of 2 407 subsidised homes.
“I cannot be happier that we are embarking on the construction phases of this massive development. It is a true testament of our commitment to improving the living conditions of our more vulnerable residents and of empowering them to access and to own an asset,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements, Councillor Benedicta van Minnen.
The Rosendaal project, located near Roosendal High School, kicked off the first phase of the Delft integrated housing project. The first phase would see the construction of 288 subsidised homes – in accordance with National Government’s subsidy criteria – and would lead to “the eventual construction of 2 407 subsidised housing units in total”.
“The first 288 beneficiaries have been approved and are about to be contacted so that we can start with their title deed applications,” said Van Minnen.
The first phase would see construction of two-bedroom, freestanding, and semi-detached single and double-storey units.
The Delft integrated housing project was split into four phases:
– The Hague (Phase 1)
– The Hague (Phase 2)
Construction of the last phase was expected to commence in the 2017 / 2018 financial year.
THE city of Cape Town has cried foul after one of its councillors sent to attend a Department of Human Settlements meeting in Johannesburg this week was asked to leave the meeting venue by Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.
Ms Sisulu is said to have asked Cape Town mayoral committee member for human settlements Benedicta van Minnen to leave Monday’s meeting arguing that it was only for mayors.
The incident is likely to put further strain on the relationship between the city of Cape Town and Ms Sisulu. Last year the minister and the city clashed over the Lwandle Commission of Inquiry. She also accused the Democratic Alliance-led city of "buying" the title of World Design Capital in 2014.
According to Ms van Minnen, Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille could not attend the meeting because she had a previous long-standing commitment that she could not cancel for a meeting where she was given only three days’ notice.
"She communicated her unavailability to the minister’s office the very next day, but added that she would be sending me as her representative in my capacity as mayoral committee member for human settlements. Considering that the meeting pertained to my directorate, both myself and the mayor felt it apt that I should attend the meeting," Ms van Minnen said.
"This morning (Monday) I proceeded to travel to Johannesburg to attend the meeting. An e-mail was sent from the minister’s office ... when I was already en route to the meeting once more indicating that I was not allowed to attend. Upon my arrival, I entered the meeting.
"About 40 minutes into the discussions, Minister Sisulu arrived and asked me to leave the meeting venue. She personally blocked me from taking part in the discussion that directly impacts my directorate, and service delivery in the city at large," Ms van Minnen said.
She said Ms Sisulu has "once again misused her position as the national minister of human settlements to purposefully block service delivery in the City of Cape Town".
Ms Sisulu’s spokesman, Ndivhuwo Mabaya, said that Ms van Minnen was not an acting mayor and therefore her presence at the meeting "would not have assisted with anything, as she does not have mayoral executive powers — she was just there to take minutes".
"The city was informed that only mayors will attend the meeting. Mayor de Lille issued a number of media statements attacking the national Department of Human Settlements in the past six months; it was only fair for her to attend the meeting herself so that she can explain herself on a number of issues. We suspect she did not attend the meeting to run away from them," Mr Mabaya said.