“We demand our land” - Vlakfontein informal settlement
22 February 2013 | Marizka Coetzer and Mathilde Myburgh
It would seem like the calm after a storm approaching the Vlakfontein informal settlement on the Ranfontein Road just after noon on 21 February.
Police were still clearly visible hours after the riot took place earlier that morning.
After taking to the streets, angry residents approached the Record to tell their side of what may seem a ‘broken’ story.
"Get off my land you are not a comrade," a resident initially shouted to journalists.
It seems like a misunderstood dispute between the informal settlement and the local municipality has escalated into a yet another destructive riot.
The usual burning of tyres and dumping of rubbish was seen all along the Randfontein road as ‘rioters’ express their anger.
“We can give you a second Marikana,” an angry resident told the Record.
The riot followed what residents see as ‘18 years of struggle’ which includes housing problems and service delivery.
The Vlakfontein informal settlement drafted and sent a memorandum to the Johannesburg Metropolitan municipality, with the help of local ward councillor Sabelo Nscana.
The response came directly from the MEC of Housing, Ntombi Mekgwe, who promised answers within 14 days – according to a rioter and resident David Masina.
Promises that were never kept.
“He didn’t respond – as he guaranteed – about the land promised to us.”
Concerned residents were later told that previous Local Government and Housing MEC Humphrey Mmemezi had sold the land illegally for approximately R20 million.
“We believe it is worth more, and it is ours,” Masina commented.
“We then demanded to see, to know, who the current and previous owners are. Who transacted with who is what I’m asking.”
Residents of the informal settlement firmly believe that the land is theirs.
“Fighting for our land by rioting is the only way of communication now,” fellow resident Laurence Mbolekwa responded when asked about the reason for the riot.
“We are demanding our land.”
Vlakfontein residents also continuously complained about the lack of toilets and electricity.