Mayors wins battle to house white residents

The relentless fight by Lejweleputswa District Municipality executive mayor, Mathabo Leeto and Matjhabeng Local Municipality executive mayor, Sebenzile Ngangelizwe, to give the poor white residents of Sewende Laan decent housing is bearing fruit.

Both Leeto and Ngangelizwe are members of the ANC provincial executive committee (PEC). Harmony Gold Mine has finally agreed to hand over the so-called Sewende Laan neighbourhood in Odendaalsrus near Welkom to the Matjhabeng Local Municipality.

The municipality will not be able to allocate the residents of the area permanent homes.

This poor white community of approximately 300 residents was discovered in May when the Lejweleputswa District Municipality visited underprivileged areas such as these in the region to donate food parcels and blankets to them.

Merely a day after the visit by the Lejweleputswa District Municipality, together with the Matjhabeng Local Municipality, almost half of Sewende Laan residents received eviction notices because they had threatened to expose the caretakers of the buildings they are renting for the abuse they had subjected them to.

The land occupied by Seventh Avenue, belonged to the city council. But the buildings were owned by the mine.

Leeto, vowed then to ensure that the property would be handed over to the municipality and that a full investigation was launched into the conduct of the caretakers.

“The day we donated the food and blankets, we realised that there was a number of challenges facing this community. People, who were already at their lowest, were being oppressed. We suspect that because we promised to do a door to door investigation to get to the bottom of the situation, the residents were kicked out in order to intimidate them.

“Following our visit we conducted a research and discovered that the land they were occupying belongs to Harmony Gold Mine. For the past two years, Elmarie Stubbe has been leasing the place from Harmony Gold and has been abusing poor people as she pleases,” said Leeto at the time.

One of the residents, Johan Burger, said Stubbe and her husband arrived two years ago at Sewende Laan. Since then residents have been physically, emotionally and verbally abused by the couple. Both of them are unemployed and receive disability grants.

Leeto said the municipalities’ long term plan is to get all of these people their own secure homes and promised to rope in Ngangelizwe, and premier Ace Magashule to identify sites where RDP houses can be built in the area.

“I believe that these people will always be taken advantage of. Therefore, in order for them to live in peace and harmony we will make sure that they receive their own houses.

We want to assure them and other disadvantaged white people as well as other minority groups in the province that the ANC government is a caring government and it offers services to all the people of the province and the country irrespective of the race, class and gender.

“I have no doubt that the provincial government led by premier Ace Magashule will intervene decisively in this matter and ensure that these people’s plight is addressed satisfactorily.

“As a leader, I know that Comrade Ace Magashule is passionate about making minorities feel home in the province,” added Leeto.