Clerics challenge land plan

The sale of this site in Bloekombos has been supported by Sub-council 2.

Bloekombos clerics and community leaders have rejected an application to build a place of worship in the area.

The Ward 101 Ministers’ Fraternal and community leaders met with Bloekombos councillor Luyanda Mbele to discuss the application for a “place of worship and instruction” on erf 28063.

They decided not to support it until they knew who the applicant was and whether the site would be used for other purposes “such as a creche or community centre”.

The application was brought before Sub-council 2 on Wednesday June 21.

At the meeting, Mr Mbele reiterated the community’s opposition, saying religious groups from outside the area had previously bought land and built churches only for them to be underutilised. Furthermore, he said, the structures added no benefit to the community.

“We are not opposed to places of worship, but the congregants must be in the community,” he said.

Reverend Makhosini Maki, an Anglican priest who leads Ward 101 Ministers’ Fraternal, said residents did not get a fair chance to tender for places of worship because they could not afford to.

“We see that the tendering process of the municipality makes it possible for elite groups to buy places within our areas, depriving locals who can’t afford it,” he said. “If you drive around on Sundays, you will see the furniture has been taken out of the houses because the people are having church inside. Then afterwards the furniture is put back inside.”

The City, he said, had torn down shacks the community had built to serve as churches.

“People would put up shacks for churches on open pieces of land and then the Land Invasion Unit would come and tear it down. Many people have lost their resources that way,” he said.

Sub-council 2 chairman Grant Twigg said the applicant’s identity was irrelevant because the sub-council only had to consider whether the land was suitable for a place of worship, and so it had supported the request.

“Places like Kraaifontein really need these places of worship so that we don’t only have devils coming in,” he said.

According to the agenda notes for the item, the sale would be by public competition and the buyer stood to benefit from a substantial discount.

“It is in the interest of the state to sell the capital assets at less than fair market value as it supports government’s social and community programmes aimed at stimulating and accelerating investment in poor neighbourhoods,” the notes said.

“It is in the interest of the community that the capital assets be made available to it at less than fair market value as this facilitates access to land ownership, which is of benefit to the community at large.”

The City’s valuers estimated the 1 218 square metre property to be worth R134 000 but its discounted value for community use would be R33 500, the notes said.

The Northern News asked the City who the applicant was.

Stuart Diamond, mayoral committee member for assets and facilities management, said: “There is no applicant at the moment. If approved by council, the land will be disposed of for a community facility (religious purposes) by means of a public tender. This will allow any faith-based organisation to tender for this land.”

What the residents say

The Northern News asked residents living near the property what their opinions were on the sale of the land for a place of worship:

Elizabeth Frans did not mind a church on the property but hoped it would be an Afrikaans one. Ms Frans felt the area did
not have enough resources for Afrikaans-speaking people and even the school had very few Afrikaans classes. She added, however, that there were rumours that a mosque would be built on the property.

Carrie Stollie said she wouldn’t mind if a church was built but added that there were already five other churches nearby. She felt the area needed more sports and recreation facilities. “Maybe a netball court but anything to keep the youth busy,” she said.

Zimkitha Makombe said she was happy the land would be sold because it was becoming derelict. She said she didn’t mind what was built as long as it was not a park because children could get injured in parks.

Xabisa Petela said she was happy that a place of worship would be built there because the plot was dirty and dangerous and children played there.

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