South Africa: Land Occupiers Say They Paid R150,000 for Plots, but Where Is the Money?

Hundreds of people from Endlovini informal settlement in Port Elizabeth demand answers from ward committee

Chaos erupted in Motherwell on Thursday when residents of Endlovini informal settlement, Port Elizabeth, said they had been defrauded of over R150,000 by community committee members. They burnt tyres, blew whistles, and closed the busy Uitenhage Road.

Ward 54 Councillor Morgan Tshaka (ANC) met about 200 angry residents. They told him households had each paid about R200 for a plot of land.

There are about 1,000 shacks now in the settlement.

Mandisi Mabekanjani, who occupied the land in August 2018, said the R200 fee he and others paid was meant to be for the committee to hire a bulldozer to clear the bush for plots.

"There was a committee lady and a rasta committee member ... They took my money ... I cleared it [the bush] by myself for three weeks to get the plot ... We don't see where this money is going. There is not even proof that you had paid for a plot. All they did was write your name in a book and tell you that you've got the land," he said.

"When we ask for financial statements, the committee members point fingers at those who are not present in the meeting, saying all the books are with those absent," said Mabekanjani.

When Tshaka arrived, a resident shouted, "I have been threatened by people who say they will burn my shack, because they say I have defrauded them. But I promise: I will moer [beat] anyone who tries to come near my yard. I will do it and get out of jail for free."

Tshaka told residents he was called by police.

While he was speaking, another group of about 50 residents from NU30 arrived, demanding the committee be disbanded. They said that no one should pay for the plot.

"I heard that you want the committee to step down," he said calmly. "But I have never elected any committee. Therefore I cannot disband the committee because it was never established by me ... I don't want a fight here ... We should sit down and discuss these minor issues; no need to burn tyres as if you had service delivery issues against me," he said.

He added: "The committee told me the money would be used to buy pipes, employ plumbers to install them so that people can get access to water." He said this was a positive thing as Endlovini was a land occupation and not budgeted for by the City.

Tshaka called a meeting for Friday, 9 August. "I want everyone to ask anything and I want all the committee members to bring financial books," he said.

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