Mayor meets protesting community

Kopano Dibakwane

Thaba Chweu Local Municipality, Selina Mashego – Sekgobela, met with disgruntled residents of the Chinese Housing Project (Graskop), to explain a reported decision to sell the housing units without prior consultation with the residents. A protest ensued on 23rd February, which saw residents of the housing units barricading roads and refusing to speak to anyone except the Executive Mayor. The residents refused to listen to ANC Chief Whip – Idos Mokoena, who was deployed to speak on behalf of the Executive Mayor.

Ward Councillor, Sandile Shongwe, confirmed the Executive Mayor’s presence in Graskop. He, however, mentioned that the Executive Mayor met the residents at the Chinese Housing Project and not the town hall, as it was initially reported.

Shongwe said that the minutes of a meeting that took place in 2014 involving Premier David Mabuza, Human Settlements MEC – Andries Gamede, TCLM Executive Mayor and her committee, TCLM Municipal Manager – Surprise Maebela, was read out to the Executive Mayor. The minutes reportedly reveal that the Premier (David Mabuza) called for the houses to be given due to percentages and that those residents who are employed must pay for municipality services.

“The Executive Mayor spoke about the 2014 resolution, agreeing that there was no public participation in the matter. She said that people can stay in those houses while the matter is being resolved. A new task team, from the community, will meet with the Mayor on Tuesday (27th February) to start the process.” Said Shongwe.

He added that the community has raised concern regarding the manner in which the police handled the situation. The Executive Mayor was alerted about police officers shooting randomly at protesters, without any provocation. Some residents were reportedly injured by rubber bullets.

“Several people were injured during the incident. They were shot in the back. One police officer was heard swearing at an elderly lady. The officer referred to the elderly citizen’s private parts. That’s totally unacceptable. The Mayor said that she did not deploy police to the protest,” said Shongwe.

He forwarded an apology particularly to schools, businesses, traffic, individuals, who were affected by the protest. He assured residents that everything is back to normal in Graskop.

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