Ricochet News

Fix or demolish the buildings - residents demand after man killed stealing bricks

By Afikile Lugunya - Nov 8, 2017
Fix or demolish the buildings - residents demand after man killed stealing bricks

The residents of NU29 in Motherwell, Port Elizabeth, have again called on the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality to either complete the unfinished duplex flats in the area and allocate them to housing beneficiaries or to just demolish them as they have become a danger to community members.

The latest call comes after the death of a local man, Zolani Nkombisa, who was killed when one of the buildings collapsed on top of him while he was apparently busy stealing bricks with his two friends for use elsewhere.

According to the residents, people have been doing this for a very long time as the structures have never been completed. As a result, they don’t get to sleep peacefully because of the noise as people even come at night to steal the bricks.

“We don’t sleep because of the noise these people make. It is very disturbing and after this incident, I really thought that when I came from work these houses would have been bulldozed already," said Ntomboxolo Genu, a local resident.

“I work night shift, when I come back at 3am, I still find people trying to destroy these walls - when I leave for work in the afternoon, they are still doing the same thing.”

She also added that they are afraid for their children, who play in the abandoned houses, and criminals have also been using the structures.

“When we pass by here, we are scared because we don’t know if there is a thug in the house waiting and ready to attack us,” Genu said.

African National Congress (ANC) Ward 54 branch secretary, Nozuko Blou, and Ward Councillor, Morgan Tshaka, accused Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality MMC for Housing, Cllr Nqaba Bhanga, who is also the Democratic Alliance (DA) Eastern Cape Leader, of not caring about people in the ward.

The two claimed that the only time when Cllr Bhanga visits the ward is when someone has died just like when something bad happens - like when this man died and when a 14-year-old girl was raped and killed in the buildings.

Coincidentally, the man died just metres away from where that girl was killed about a month ago.

“We have been calling Mr Bhanga, but he doesn’t respond because when he came here he said that those houses will be destroyed after engineers came to look at them,” Blou said.

“People are destroying them to make the municipal job easy because that is what Mr Bhanga said would happen to those houses, so they take the bricks to extend their own houses.

“We did an awareness when the child died, thinking that Mr Bhanga would come back, but after the burial of the child, he never came.

“Its high time that Bhanga deals with those houses because they are stealing our families from us while he is sitting in his office ready to cry with our families when something happens to them in those houses.”

Ward Councillor Tshaka also alleged that Bhanga has not responded to any of his emails after he tried several times to get in touch with him about the situation at Ward 54.

He further condemned the stealing of bricks from the buildings and appealed to residents to stop buying of stolen bricks because residents are risking their lives.

“Bhanga is not serious about responding to this matter because the only time he comes to this ward is when someone has died, meaning that he is responding to the incident not the actual challenge that our people are facing in Ward 54,” Tshaka said.

Speakign to RNEWS, Cllr Bhanga denied all the allegations against him and added that he works with people in the Ward that brief him about "everything" that happens in the Ward.

“I was the one that was responsible for many arrests in the Ward when people started stealing doors and windows of those houses.

“When someone dies, I do go because I am a black person and when someone dies, I do go there. I also called the minister, which I am still waiting to hear her response on the way forwards regarding those houses,” Bhanga described.

“This Nu29 issue is really heart breaking because this is the second incident in a very short period of time. What the resident did was not right, but when someone has died we do send our condolences as the Municipality.

“It is not true that I don’t respond to residents demands because I work with people at NU29.”

According to Bhanga, the issue lays in the hands of the Human Settlements Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, who has been silent.

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