On Tuesday, members of the media gathered at the Western Cape legislature to hear the DA’s position on the Lwandle land eviction incident. This is after over 800 destitute people were forcibly removed from illegally occupying SANRAL-owned land near Somerset West. A commission of inquiry has been set up to investigate why those people were occupying the land when there was a waiting list for government housing.
Speaking at the press conference, the Premier of the Western Cape says the inquiry is “not kosher or Halaal”. It has all the makings of a “political hit squad,” she added.
Helen Zille questioned the reliability and subjectivity of the commission saying it is 90 percent made up of the ANC. Butch Steyn, a former DA MP, is the only non-ANC supporting member. The DA believes that this was a way of creating a false sense of credibility. She further stated that the commission is made up of mostly former and current ANC MPs. Some of whom stand accused of criminal activities including the possession of mandrax tablets. The impartiality of one of the commission’s members Annelize van Wyk (a former ANC chairperson) is also under the DA’s scrutiny. She tweeted that the DA was responsible for the evictions before investigations even began. The chair of the committee is Advocate Denzil Potgieter who has previously been reprimanded for an inappropriate inquiry. And to top it all off, Zille indicated that a lawyer from Ses’ Khona is also part of the committee. The organisation, which openly supports the ANC, is responsible for selling the SANRAL-owned land. This makes Zille believe that the committee is not independent and thus cannot hold an objective inquiry.
“We are as keen as anyone else to establish the facts in the light of conflicting claims. But from the outset, we knew that this committee, its establishment, composition, and terms of reference raised more questions than answers,” said Helen Zille on Tuesday.
The City Fingers Ses’ khona People’s Rights Movement
Ses’ khona is allegedly to blame for the land invasions. The city is in possession of affidavits where people have paid the ANC-supporting organisation as much as R2500 for shacks on SANRAL land. They are allegedly selling land they know that these people will inevitably be evicted from. The City’s Disaster Risk Management Center, SASSA and the South African Red Cross Society stepped in to assist the people affected by the evictions. It’s alleged however, that the relief packages they provided were intercepted by Ses’ Khona and given to those who paid membership to the organisation. The DA has laid criminal charges against the organisation.
“Ses’ khona needs to be asked about caring for the people,” said DA leader, Helen Zille.
“The City has done enormous amounts from a humanitarian gesture, despite the fact that the city played no part in the eviction,” added Mayor Patricia De Lille.
The DA claims that they are the only party providing humanitarian relief after the invident, yet are being accused of politicising the entire matter.
Furthermore, Zille has questioned why Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu had not set up inquiries to investigate recent evictions in Durban, and Zandspruit and Alexandra in Johannesburg. She alleges that it is because Cape Town is the only city not under ANC governance.
Fair , just and equitable housing
The Mayor says that the obvious urgency by which the Lwandle settlers need assistance cannot be seen as a way to jump the queue.
“There are 2300 individuals who need to be considered for housing before the people who settled illegally,” said Patricia De Lille.
The City further states that only 76 of 400 people that were evicted are on the housing database. Three of which have already received housing subsidised by the state. They therefore cannot be considered again.
The inquiry had given the DA one day to submit oral evidence to the committee. The Human Settlements Minister has declined the invitation. The opposition party’s stance is that the enquiry would have given them more time if they really wanted to hear what they had to say.
The premier is calling for an investigation by an independent committee. The party will challenge the findings of the commission and take court action if necessary.
Once again a human issue has become a political one. From the start, the ANC blamed the DA and said that the evictions were punishment for those who did not vote for them in the elections. It’s become a political football match where more focus is on who is to blame rather than the greater housing issue in Cape Town. Helen Zille admitted that 50 000 people come to live in Cape Town every year and The City cannot provide housing at such an alarming rate. At the end of the day, one party will “win” this blaming-battle. But what about the people affected by the evictions and the housing problems of Cape Town in general? It’s these unfortunate people who have lost the most.
Images: City Press and Times Live
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