Council moves Avondzon squatters to a rubbish dump PDF Print E-mail
News - Aktueel
Tuesday, 11 November 2008 03:16
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Donkerhoek’s Avondzon squatters have been moved to the edge of a rubbish dump by the Nokeng tsa Taemane Municipality. The municipality never told the person who rents the property of its intention to move 146 shacks there.

The squatters now live on plot 45 in Pienaarspoort next to the Hatherley waste disposal site, north-east of the Sentrarand railway line. This resettlement site falls within the 800 meters buffer zone around the waste disposal site, a zone declared unfit for human habitation according to international law.

The move was made after the owner of plot 108 Donkerhoek 365-JR, behind the Avondzon Café, got a court order to remove the squatters.

Officials of the municipality of Nokeng tsa Taemane moved the 146 shacks during the last two weeks of August to plot 45. This property is rented by Abel Pienaar of AJP Civil Engineers, who received no notice of Nokeng tsa Taemane’s intention to move the squatters onto his rented ground.

Plot 45 belongs to the Tshwane Metro Municipality. It was bought, together with adjoining ground, from Ben van der Merwe to be used as a dumping site.


The squatters were moved from plot 108, Donkerhoek to plot 45, Pienaarspoort

Misery
Pienaarspoort resident, Petro Lemmer, said that this ground “was a pristine piece of Acacia countryside that was converted, within one month, to an area of human misery through the negligent action of a non-caring municipality”. No environmental impact study was done on plot 45 before the officials settled the squatters on the farm. No services, such as water supply and sewerage, were installed.

Before the three water tanks were erected for the 146 shacks, the new inhabitants of plot 45 had to use water that was not suitable for human consumption from a nearby old sand quarry for drinking and washing.


The water tanks often run dry
Photos: Petro Lemmer

Dirty
Getting water from the three new tanks also proves to be problematic: The inhabitants have to queue for water while one person, who represents the leading faction, first fills the containers of those he represents.

Afterwards the other inhabitants are allowed to fill their containers. The tanks soon run dry and the people left without water have to resort to the dirty water of the sand quarry.

Nine chemical toilets were installed to serve the 146 shacks, but people who live far from the toilets prefer to use the veld. No provision was made for refuse removal or for a communal waste pit for burning or other means of waste destruction.

The lay-out of the shanty town with its long parallel tracks force those who live near the centre to carry their refuse long distances to dump it outside the housing development. Those unable to walk that far with their load cover these parallel dirt tracks in refuse, which is blown across the countryside.

Unhappy
Petro Lemmer has paid many visits to these shacks in an effort to find a solution to the misery. She said that there is great unhappiness among the squatters who previously lived in the shade of the Eucalyptus thicket behind Avondzon Café on fairly large portions of land. They now have to live in full
sun in their metal shacks, far from shops and the nearest transport pick-up points.

She said that each shack owner was instructed to erect his shack on a pre-measured 5 x 7 m plot, back-to-back and side-to-side, with hardly 10 cm between some of the larger shacks at the side and back.

“Each row of shacks fronts on a narrow dirt track, with no outside area to cook, hang washing, store a refuse container or plant vegetables,” Petro said.
Many shacks are left in the care of small preschool children during the day. Should a fire start in one of the shacks, many shacks might be burned down and lives be lost, Petro said.


Shack owners were instructed to erect each shack on a pre-measured 5 x 7 m plot, back-to-back and side-to-side

Dangerous
The parallel dirt tracks open onto the D771 gravel road that connects the R104 tarred road at Avondzon with Pienaarspoort Station.

Petro said that the quartzite-laden dust from the D771 gravel road is a proven carcinogen. This dust is kicked up by hundreds of heavy duty trucks moving between the Delf sand quarry and the tarred road at Avondzon. It makes breathing difficult and near impossible for asthma sufferers.

She said that it endangers the lives of pedestrians, including the learners from Lesedi High School, previously known as Donkerhoek Laerskool, who commute to and from Mandela Village, and the adults who live in the plot 45 settlement.

No provision has been made for run-off rainwater. The water that accumulates in the gap between shacks has nowhere to go except under the walls and into the shacks. The dirt track in front becomes a quagmire during heavy rains.

Petro said that the Nokeng tsa Taemane Municipality must enter into immediate negotiations with the squatter community and the property owners in the area as well as established community associations such as the Magalies-Bronberg Property Owners Association (MBPA) to address the unacceptable conditions.

Clandestine
According to MBPA chairman, Wolf Snyckers, the municipality ignored repeated requests for information on, and confirmation of the intended move of the squatters. “Becoming aware of the first rumours of a possible resettlement, we, on 26 August, sent a very detailed e-mail to the Nokeng Tsa Taemane Local Municipality requesting clarification.” “We have not had the promised feedback. Instead, in an almost clandestine operation, the squatters were resettled in a take-it-or-leave-it manner to the new location without any further notification,” Wolf said.

He said that the MBPA is now trying to assist in finding an acceptable, orderly solution to the problem.

According to Petro, it is Nokeng’s duty to humanise “the conditions under which this ‘dumped’ informal settlement community is forced to live, if one can describe it as living, by the decree of a seemingly uncaring municipal officialdom”.


There are 146 shack owners on plot 45, Pienaarspoort

 

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