MEC no-show infuriates Thembelihle residents

FILE PICTURE: Protesting Thembelihle residents throw stones at the police as members of the SAPS and JMPD attempt to disperse them, 26 February 2015. Thembelihle residents took to the streets after a Lenasia man shot two protesters on Wednesday night who were threatening to burn electricity boxes in the suburb. The man was arrested. Twenty protesters were later arrested for public violence. Picture: Michel Bega

The troubled Thembelihle informal settlement, south of Johannesburg, is likely to remain tense until Gauteng MEC for human settlements Jacob Mamabolo addresses residents there, community spokesperson Bhayiza Miya said.

“We were told the MEC will be coming to address residents on Wednesday afternoon, but while we were waiting anxiously, we were told he was no longer coming and had sent officials from his department to come and address us on his behalf.

“The MEC’s failure to arrive angered residents, and they have made it clear they will not listen to any other government official until the MEC comes here to respond to the service delivery grievances and demands,” Miya said.

But the Gauteng provincial government called on Thembelihle community leaders to stop misleading residents and abusing platforms made available by government to promote dialogue. According to Mamabolo, government has been ready to meet the community since Monday, but the protests have been making it extremely difficult to engage them.

“Government has nominated housing member of the mayoral committee Dan Bovu to meet with the community, but the community leaders are denying us an opportunity to address residents.

“We condemn this action, as it is not in the interest of addressing genuine concerns raised by the community,” Mamabolo added. Two weeks ago, violent protests engulfed the area and angry residents threatened to vandalise electricity boxes in neighbouring Lenasia extension 11.

Lenasia residents came out to protect their electricity boxes and one person fired at the protesters, injuring a man. Miya said there was no longer tension between protesters and Lenasia residents, as they had now seen for themselves the conditions under which shack dwellers were forced to live.

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