The gruesome discovery of two female bodies near an incomplete Mdantsane housing project in June has pushed Buffalo City Metro to restart the work after angry residents blamed the crime on the stalled construction.
Resumption of work on the NU6 housing project was announced yesterday by mayor Xola Pakati at a mayoral imbizo in Mdantsane.
The bodies were found by residents while they were chasing a suspected rapist they believed had raped a schoolgirl in one of the unfinished houses.
Pakati told a large crowd at the NU6 sports field: “The Daluxolo housing project is now progressing, we are fixing the houses.”
Ward 11 and ward 20 residents affected by the killings welcomed the news.
The Daily Dispatch reported in June that the Johannesburg-based Siyavuna Trading company was awarded a R163.7-million tender in 2014 to build 908 houses.
The contract was later cut to R62-million for 266 houses in Daluxolo, Sisulu, Winnie Mandela, Francis Meli, Hani Park, Mahlangu, Gwentshe and Mathemba Vuso.
The project was scheduled for completion in April 2016, but came to a standstill.
Ward 20 resident Nozizwe Ondala said: “Once the construction is done, I am pleading that beneficiaries occupy their houses because the houses are vandalised and stripped.”
Unlike last year’s imbizo, Pakati and his team received good feedback from residents concerning some of the projects BCM had completed, including bridges, roads and electricity installations in some informal settlements.
However, complaints about unemployment, lack of sport developments, housing and bad roads were still raised.
Ward 30 resident Gcinikhaya Bali said the metro should take away ward councillors’ power to employ people in ward-based projects as this disadvantaged thousands of residents who were not chosen by the councillors for the jobs.
The large crowd applauded Bali in agreement.
Last year Pakati told residents that the metro had put aside R2.6-million to upgrade the Mdantsane swimming pool in NU2, but a year later no work has started at the pool and Pakati did not mention any progress in the project.
Ward 42 resident Nonkululeko Sithole lambasted Pakati for not saying anything about the pool this year.
“We were told work would start in July but until now nothing has been done. We want to know what is happening to the pool upgrade as that should be the township’s treasure,” said Sithole.
Residents from Nondula informal settlement in NU1, who have stayed in shacks since 1992, called on Pakati to deliver houses for them, while residents from Smiling Valley complained of bad roads, lack of electricity and unresolved land ownership in the area.
In response to all the grievances and comments Pakati said the mayoral team would engage with ward councillors about the issues raised, and that the ward councillors would report back to the communities.
But the crowd shouted in disagreement, saying they did not want to be addressed by ward councillors.
Pakati said an alternative communication route would have to be suggested by the residents to BCM. — firstname.lastname@example.org