Kids suffer in land debacle

LYDENBURG – Chaos erupted on Wednesday morning when a group of residents stormed the municipal chambers during a council meeting, disrupted it and accused a political head of corruption.

This follows after the municipality gave an instruction that an apparent illegal brickmaking factory is to be demolished by a TLB in Kellysville. The group accused MEC Cllr Markus Mashego of accepting a bribe of R30 000 for the land on which the factory was built.

According to Floyd Jansen, the owner of the brick-manufacturing factory, he paid Mashego R30 000 in order to utilise the land in Jakaranda Street. “He approached me for more money before he went on holiday in Cape Town. I refused, and that is when he sent in the TLB to destroy the property.”

The group, accompanied by Jansen, decided to take matters into their own hands. On Wednesday they arrived at Kellysville Primary and chased all the children out of the playground. “We are making a statement. We are tired of corruption. The children will not be allowed to go to school until this matter is resolved.”

In the meantime the police were informed of the riot at the school. SAPS members were deployed and the children were led back to the school. Hard words were exchanged by police officers and a member of the group. Sgt Teenage Dladla demanded that the children be left alone. “Just because you didn’t attend school, you will not be allowed to prevent these children from getting an education.”

The group member threatened to burn down the school. Dladla assured him that he would be arrested as the first suspect if anything were to happen. Mashego’s house was also pelted with bricks and stones, and windows were broken. Meanwhile the other members of the group and community members barricaded Jakaranda Street with rubble and burning tyres, preventing access to Kellysville. Officers were dispatched and the situation was monitored throughout the day. The community later peacefully dispersed. A community meeting was scheduled for 10:00 on Thursday to further address the issue.

A reliable source within Thaba Chweu Local Municipality (TCLM) said Jansen’s accusations are untrue. “The land is, in fact, municipal property. No one is allowed to build or erect any structures on account of an overlying Eskom cable. “TCLM sent Jansen two notices informing him that he erected the structure illegally and that it had to be removed. Both notices were handed over to him by Piet Mkhonto, the security manager of TCLM. He ignored both. The last one gave him a 14-day notice to remove the structure and vacate the land otherwise it will be demolished.”

MEC SPEAKS OUT

Mashego responded to the allegations as a political leader and said it was unfounded. “In May we went flat-out to check all illegal land grabs around TCLM. Management made a commitment eradicating all illegal dwellings and structures, as they are also contributing to the escalating Eskom account. Our administration took over, sending him notices with regard to the illegal occupation of the land and constructing a building without permission.”

Mashego said Jansen was fabricating the bribe story because he is one of the councillors who knows the rules and regulations of land and the occupation thereof. “I am the one who is vocal about land grabs, and I became infamous and an obstacle. If I were bribed, they have all the right to go to the police which they did not do. If I were bribed, why didn’t he come to me when he received the notices? Surely you would have asked the assistance of the person who they bribed to sort it out for him. Or go to the police. How can you bribe a person and the very same person sends a TLB to demolish the property?”

Mashego said he was going to sue Jansen for defamation of character and malicious damage to property. “I will make sure the guys are behind bars. If I took a bribe, let him go and open a case and we will meet in court. It will not end here. We will continue to eradicate all permanently erected illegal structures.”

  AUTHOR
Narda Vermaak
Journalist

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