RESIDENTS of Kanana , near Bronkhorstspruit, north-eastern Gauteng are up in arms against City of Tshwane Municipality for failing to get them alternative accommodation after an eviction order by the North Gauteng High Court in April.
Karl Gribnitz is the rightful owner of the land they have been living on for more than 10 years.
The residents of the informal settlement are adamant that they will not move an inch because their history and future are deep-rooted in Kanana.
They have hired a law firm that specialises in land disputes to appeal on their behalf.
The land was previously under the administration of the Kungwini Municipality, which was disestablished and absorbed into the Tshwane municipality. The land was bequeathed to the community in 2003 by a black farmer and businessman the late Ben “Fanie” Ngomeni, who died two years later.
Ngomeni bought the land to help evicted and destitute farm workers and former employees of a construction company, GTA, which had stopped operations.
Community leader and one of the appellants Michael Cholo, says Kanana is part of Kameelzynkraal farming land and is made up of 500 stands with a population of more than 4000.
The area has a primary and high school, a clinic and a creche and falls under Gauteng North’s Region 6 and Ward 101, under DA councillor Andre van der Walt.
Cholo says in 2005 Gribnitz bought the land after Ngomeni’s death. He then threatened to evict the residents because they were staying there illegally but the Kungwini municipality opposed the eviction order.
“We’re under the DA council now, but the Gauteng housing department and the Tshwane municipality must do the right thing and help us stay here by fighting the eviction order, but if everything fails the municipality will have to build us proper houses elsewhere before we move,” Cholo says.
“We’re still using the unhygienic bucket system as toilets, we get water from refilled tanks and there is no electricity in Kanana.”
On Thursday, Cholo briefed the community on the progress of the appeal. Residents also vented their anger and frustration on how they had sought help from numerous government departments only to have doors slammed in their faces.
Elizabeth Seakgoe (63) and Anna Ntuli (60) are some of the founding residents and knew their benefactor Ngomeni personally.
Says Seakgoe: “We settled here from the GTA land. Then there were three women and eight men. We got police protection for a year as we knew that the land was Ngomeni’s but when the land was sold, the Kungwini municipality failed to find us alternative accommodation.”
Seakgoe showed us her reference number, which she uses every time she calls President Jacob Zuma’s hotline, reminding the government of their plight.
“The municipality betrayed us by selling our land and threw us to the wolves, who today have the title deeds and are evicting us,” says Ntuli.
A respected matriarch in the community Maria Mahlangu-Sabi (83), whose eye-sight is failing her, says with a shaky voice: “I’m tired of being moved around. I need stability because my legs are also failing me.”
With tears streaming down her face Lebo Mazibuko (24) says as a youngster she expected a better life with proper housing under the ANC government.
“We have facilities such as a clinic and schools. We can walk there and our jobs are around here, we’re not moving.”
Thembekile Lithina, 58, wants a permanent, proper brick house. “I’ve grandchildren growing up in the dirt and dust.
“Karl [Gribnitz] has won three times since we have been to court.
“We have suffered enough and maybe it’s time for us to move but the government must provide us with brick houses with electricity.”