Council man fingered in land for cash scandal

A disgruntled Nomfundo Gobizembe.

A former street committee chairman has admitted to taking cash for plots at the Marikana camp in Wallacedene.

Another street committee member and a City official linked to the land invasion unit have also been implicated in the scam, which allegedly saw “plots” being sold for R1 200.

The official was allegedly in cahoots with the two street committee members and oversaw the demolition of “illegal” shacks, or shacks of those who did not pay him and the two committee members.

Benedicta van Minnen, mayoral committee member for human settlements, says the City is unaware of the allegations, but will investigate them.

Marikana is a camp with about 50 newly-built shacks. Some of those marked for demolition, remained standing and occupied, while others were demolished on Thursday October 6 and on Monday October 10, which is the basis of evicted residents’ complaints.

After seeing several residents settle at the camp, Wallacedene residents Nomfundo Gobizembe and Nonzukiso Mtshixa said the street committee members had

advised them in early September to each save R1 200, which would be be shared with their City “connection”, an official in the land invasion unit.

Ms Gobizembe claimed street committee chairman Fangalele Dladla advised her and Ms Mtshixa that they could put the shacks up in the meantime, but should hold onto their money for the time being because a lot of people had been asking questions.

Ms Gobizembe and Ms Mtshixa, along with a third person, built structures on Monday morning October 3, but the City demolished them.

The two women now want to lay a complaint with the Public Protector arguing that the City cannot evict residents who have settled for more than 48 hours.

Ms Gobizembe has vowed to expose corruption in Marikana.

Ms Mtshixa said plots were sold to desperate residents coming mostly from nearby Stellenbosch and as far as Khayelitsha.

At a meeting at a park in Phase 7 on Sunday two street committee members had admitted to selling land for cash, said Ward 101 councillor, Luyanda Mbele.

Mr Dladla repeated his admission to the Northern News on Thursday October 13, saying he and the other committee member acknowledged they “had done wrong, and we have apologised for our actions”.

Pressed about who had kept the money, Mr Dladla said the money had been paid back.

He said three evicted this week “used our mistake” as an opportunity to build a shack.

He, however, denied asking the two women for money, or having had any contact with a City official, as alleged by them, and refused to answer further questions.

Residents refer to Mr Dladla’s yard as “Nkandla” because, they say, it could fit about five shacks in his backyard, which has a pigsty that is almost the same size in width as the spaces that accommodated Ms Gobizembe and Ms Mtshixa’s shacks.

Mr Dladla said it didn’t bother him that his home was known as Nkandla because he had been one of the first people to live in the area – he moved in there in 2011 – and had to make space for his pigs, goats and a garden.

“I’m not bothered by the name-calling. The fact of the matter is that we settled the issue and the spaces that we were paid for – which we have since paid back – have not been removed. People have got their money back.”

He reiterated that there was not third person involved.

At the meeting, convened by the South African National Civic Association (SANCO), on Sunday October 9, Mr Dladla and the other committee member agreed to stand down.

Sanco chairman, August Smoki, said the only way forward was to allow the three evicted residents, Ms Gobizembe, Ms Mtshixa and another man, to move back into Marikana.

Mr Smoki said they had tried to find out who the official was, but without success.

Ms Van Minnen denied that the City had evicted the residents after 48 hours.

She said the City had thwarted five land invasions in the last three weeks in Marikana, which the City estimates to have a population of about 250 residents, and that it had become a land invasion “hotspot”.

Asked if the City had everything under control when it came to land grabs, she said: “The City does all it can within its available resources.”