Gugulethu relocation delayed by interdict

NEGLECT. Hundreds of abandoned government toilets have been left incompleted over the past 18 months. Picture: Valentina Nicol.

NEGLECT. Hundreds of abandoned government toilets have been left incompleted over the past 18 months. Picture: Valentina Nicol.

A court interdict by an adjacent land owner prevented the relocation of Gugulethu/Everest residents in Springs at least 18 months ago, adding to the long list of circumstances leading up to last week’s protests in the embattled settlement.

“The interdict was sought by an adjacent land owner who objected to the fact that the Ekurhuleni municipality would be relocating families onto the stands serviced with water and sanitation,” said spokesperson Themba Gadebe.

He said the land, located less than a kilometre from the settlement, had long since been rezoned for residential use, giving rise to construction of hundreds of toilet structures on the land after water and sanitation pipes had been laid.

The time frame in respect of the handing down of judgment lay out of the municipality’s control, Gadebe added, but he noted that the court had last week ruled in favour of Ekurhuleni’s relocation plans.

Some residents – after violent protests erupted in the settlement last Monday, resulting in 46 people being arrested – cited slow turnaround times in being relocated as one of the many reasons for the service delivery-related action and their boycotting of votes.

Others, however, had given up on the idea of relocation entirely, saying they wanted the same services to be provided on the land currently occupied.

Gadebe said the development plan for Gugulethu/Everest was to de-densify the land currently occupied by relocating some shacks to the newly developed land in Payneville Extension One.

“This would allow the municipality to then incrementally upgrade the existing area by providing secure tenure, water, sanitation, homes and electricity, as well as other socio-economic infrastructure,” Gadebe said.

An inspection of several of the toilet structures found that toilets were yet to be installed in any of them, and plumbing connections were conspicuous by their absence.

The toilet structures stood among overgrown grass and weeds – a clear indication of long periods of inactivity on the land – while vandalism, by way of broken doors and windows, was also evident.

Gadebe said Ekurhuleni had every intention of providing “fully functional water-borne toilets, with all required plumbing”, but that the process had been interrupted by the interdict.

“The contractor left the site and not all the work was completed. Once the legal process allows, a full rehabilitation of the infrastructure will be undertaken,” Gadebe said.

He noted that each stand allocated would also have its own water point, making water more accessible. –

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