Call to prosecute land invaders over ’threats’

DA councillor Grant Twigg called on an EFF councillor to lay charges against land invaders who allegedly threatened to destroy infrastructure.

An EFF councillor who allegedly heard Wallacedene squatters threaten to destroy a municipal mobile pump station should lay criminal charges against them, fellow councillors said this week.

Mbulelo Dwane told a virtual Sub-council 2 meeting on Wednesday that the squatters had made the threats in his presence during a community meeting on Saturday July 10.

According to him, they were unhappy that their demands for services had not been met.

Amelia van Rhyn, the sub-council manager, said the squatters – who invaded Section 19 in Swellini Street – wanted water, electricity and chemical toilets.

Ward 7 DA councillor Grant Twigg said the community should not be held to ransom by people who had illegally occupied land.

Mr Twigg and ANC councillor Siyabonga Duka urged Mr Dwane to lay criminal charges against those who allegedly made the threats. “We’re in trouble here with instigators,” Mr Duka said. “They have the audacity to say they’re going to burn the pump. It can’t be.”

DA councillor Siseko Mbandezi said the alleged threats came from the same people who had previously destroyed the pump station and a transformer, in Swellini Street, causing R4.3m in damage.

Ms Rhyn had urged councillors to visit the area in an effort to prevent further vandalism.

Dwane told the meeting he had done just that two weeks prior. “These residents have been requesting chemical toilets, but there has been no response from the municipality. I tried to calm them down and explained that things take a while.

“They could not listen to us. With regards to that pump station, I even recommended to the manager (Ms Van Rhyn) that I think she should (remove) the mobile pump station.”

Mr Dwane’s comments were disrupted by a bad internet connection, but Mr Twigg said the EFF leader had intimated that the squatters had threatened to destroy the pump station.

“Councillor Dwane must come forward with those names so that we prosecute them. It’s unfortunate that people want to negotiate on service delivery. Everything needs to go through certain processes,” he said.

“You can’t have people threatening with what they’re going to do. If that pump station is going to be burned, I want to say Councillor Dwane is aware of these people who made the threats. We cannot continue with lawlessness. Other people are affected when those pumps are not operational.”

Ms Van Rhyn said the site was “not recognised” by the City as an informal settlement and did not qualify for toilets on that basis.

Speaking to the Northern News after the meeting, Mr Dwane said the squatters wanted services because they had seen them provided to other illegal settlements.

Ward 8 councillor Marian Nieuwoudt reminded Mr Dwane that councillors were bound by a code of conduct to report such incidents.

Mr Dwane said he lived in Bothasig and did not know the people who had allegedly made threats.