Too many unanswered questions about Angelo move

Mike Waters, MP DA constituency head: Lethabong (back), Jean du Plessis (front, left, Ward 92 committee member) and Clr Tiziana Plaskitt, Ward 92, at the beacon warning people there is an open mineshaft on the land earmarked for the Angelo informal settlement residents.

The proposed move of the Boksburg-based Angelo informal settlement residents to Germiston (GCN, March 31) will be going ahead according to the metro.

This move will, however, be temporary as, according to the metro, the migration plan has earmarked the Comet Village, in Boksburg, as the land to be developed for the Angelo residents.

Along with a string of other unanswered questions, the GCN has not received clarity from the metro on how temporary the relocation of the residents to Germiston will be.

Metro spokesman Thema Gadebe says the layout of the Comet Village land has been approved and the project is now at the Opening of Townships register stage, which means the land will now be proclaimed a township.

Gadebe added that the land where the residents are at the moment is in the process of being developed by the land owner.“The owner has been granted a court order to evict the illegal occupants and the metro has been ordered by the court to find alternative land for them.

Contractors have already started laying concrete slabs and preparing the land on Main Reef Road for the relocation of residents from the Angelo informal settlement.

“As a temporary measure, while the Comet Village land is being developed, the Driefontein Stand 87, Portion 230 land, in Germiston, has been identified to accommodate the community,” Gadebe said.

However, this proposed move to Germiston has been met with great concern and apprehension by local ward councillors and members of surrounding communities.

Ward 92 councillor Tiziana Plaskitt said that the DA in Ekurhuleni will continue to put the residents of the Angelo informal settlement first as the land in Germiston is unsafe for residential use.

In a heated debate in council, Plaskitt detailed the metro’s plans to relocate the community to land with an open mineshaft and sinkholes.

“In addition, we raised our concerns over the lack of public participation with these communities per the emergency housing guidelines,” Plaskitt said.

“We have also uncovered a potentially huge fraudulent transaction, which completely disregards the safety of the residents of Ekurhuleni and an investigation was accepted in a motion to council regarding this.

“The land where they want to relocate the residents was purchased by Living Africa Development Pty Ltd (title deed number T- 65645/2016) from Crown Gold Recoveries Pty Ltd (title deed number T-15908/2011) for R112 074 and then sold to Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality (title deed number T- 65646/2016) for R12.1-million – the transfer of both sales transactions occurred on the same date.

The open mineshaft on the land earmarked to house the Angelo informal settlement residents.

Gadebe commented that the purchase of the property was in accordance with the applicable metro property acquisition processes and to this extent an independent external valuer’s services were sought to provide a fair value of the property.

“On top of this suspicious purchase, the safety of the soon-to-be residents cannot be guaranteed as no environmental impact study has been conducted.

“The metro has advised that there is a geotech study, but to date we have not been supplied with this document and an application through parliament will be done in terms of the Public Access to Information Act, as we do not believe that such a study has been conducted as only after the trees were removed was it allegedly discovered that there is a mineshaft and sinkholes on this land.”

Plaskitt claimed that after a discussion with the previous ward councillor of the area, she discovered that agricultural activities had been prohibited in the area due to poisons in the ground.

“The safety of the residents must come first given the tragic events that happened at the Jerusalem informal settlement not too far away from this site,” she said.

“It is obvious that the metro did not do an initial inspection of the site as they would have seen the concrete structure warning of a mineshaft which was erected by the Department of Minerals and Energy.

“Was this department even contacted to get the history of this piece of land?

“Subsequently, we have requested the alleged geographical study of the area which the MMC for human settlements, Clr Lesiba Mpya, openly declared in the recent council meeting was done, when he refused to let the motion regarding this situation pass in council.

“Yet, this study and the findings, which the MMC declared to council was readily available, have not been released for scrutiny to members of council, of the human settlements oversight committee or the public.”

Plaskitt said these findings need to be released for public scrutiny following the motions submitted to council requesting an investigation into the purchase of the land, as well as the safety of the people.

“We know there is a massive housing shortage in Ekurhuleni, but more needs to be done to address the housing issues, instead of merely moving residents onto unsafe land without care for their wellbeing.

“Procedures and processes need to be followed and our people deserve to be protected.

“Corruption and fast tracking the processes to benefit a select few, while putting our people’s lives at risk will not be tolerated.

“In line with the constitution, residents need to live in an environment which is safe,” Plaskitt said.

One of the sinkholes on the land.

The metro told the GCN that a number of studies were conducted on the land, including a geotechnical study (which shows the shallow undermining and demarcates the developable and undevelopable areas); an environmental impact assessment (basic assessment) was submitted to Goard; township establishment application was lodged with city planning, also pending approval (all comments received and in order).

“The township layout has been prepared and circulated to all relevant departments and the development process is now underway in line with the submitted layout,” Gadebe said.

“The sinkholes are addressed by the geotechnical study and the layout, therefore, excludes the areas which are prone to sinkholes.

“The land surveyor undertook the demarcation process to mark and exclude all areas susceptible to sinkholes prior to the development of temporary structures.

“The mineshaft has been identified and a service provider is being appointed to seal the shaft and ensure the area is safe for human habitation.

“The metro will not relocate any community members until all safety measures have been concluded and the area is safe.”

The GCN asked the metro a number of questions with regard to the proposed move and most of the questions remained unanswered, most notably the question as to why no public participation process had taken place.

The GCN has resubmitted the questions, as well as requested copies of the various studies the metro said they have done.

Work on the site is continuing.


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