By Jack Bloom MPL, DA Gauteng Member of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature:
The Stoffel Park informal settlement in Mamelodi East should be upgraded rather than dismantled.
I was shocked to see on my visit there yesterday the empty spaces where shacks had been destroyed and more than two thousand people brutally removed to Pienaarspoort earlier this year.
I first visited Stoffel Park in August 2013, and I stayed the night there in the shack of Mr Jimmy Nkuna.
It was one of more than 100 visits to informal settlements that I did on one day a month for two-and-a-half years, including spending the night in 30 shacks to experience what it was like to live there and see what I could do to help.
Jimmy Nkuna is a young disabled man who gets around in a wheelchair, and is threatened with a forced removal to Pienaarspoort.
I gave him a copy of my book “30 Nights in a Shack – A Politician’s Journey”, which makes a plea for forgotten people in informal settlements to be assisted to uplift themselves.
Together with DA list councillor Magic Mampuru, I also met with Mr Stoffel Motloutsi, the founder of the settlement, who expressed determination that residents wanted to stay and have proper services provided.
I was pleased on the one hand that the council had fixed the bridge that residents had built to provide access to the area, and that gravel had been put on the main sand road.
On the other hand, residents told me of how the council had forcibly relocated people without any warning, picking on female-headed households who provided the least resistance.
They said that Pienaarspoort was a bleak place without services.
Stoffel Park residents have invested a lot of effort and money in setting up this settlement which is on council-owned land.
There are a number of brick houses in Stoffel Park and many other sturdily built structures that residents have built.
The DA has gone to the Human Rights Commission to prevent any further removals.
I hope that the Tshwane Metro Council recognizes the human rights of Stoffel Park residents and consults with them to provide title deeds and proper services.