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Ministers meet with community leaders to talk about Operation Vez’iSlip

There has been a call for Operation Vez'iSlip to be halted at the Sotho and Nguni hostels, citing it has led to violence and killings.

The iNduna of Sotho Hostel, Qondani Mthethwa, told this to Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola and deputy minister Phathekile Holomisa during the stakeholders meeting in Vosloorus on August 2.

The purpose of the meeting was for stakeholders to voice their grievances, following the unpleasant events of unrest and the looting of businesses a month ago. The stakeholders include iNdunas of hostels, ward councillors, the SAPS, CPF, NAFCOC, ex-offenders, religious leaders and community members.

According to Mthethwa, the operations have caused more harm in hostels.

He said it has resulted in people being killed out of suspicion that they might have tipped off the police.

“The station commander of Vosloorus SAPS knows how problematic these two hostels are.

“We have all kinds of dangerous people here from rural areas. People who were moved to Gauteng by their parents because they could not handle them, now they are our responsibility. These are uncontrollable people.

“Operation Vez’iSlip is nonsense. If the government really cares for people, this operation should stop,” said Mthethwa.

Stakeholders’ grievances

The iNduna of Sotho Hostel, Qondani Mthethwa, during the stakeholders meeting.

The chairperson of NAFCOC, George Ratswana, who spoke on behalf of small and medium enterprises, raised the issues of national security, expropriation of land without compensation and conflicts within the ANC.

Ratswana told Lamola they are saddened by the recent events and said famine has hit home.

He said NAFCOC has been met with challenges such as businesses being owned by foreign nationals.

“Foreign nationals enter the country whenever they want. They get into our country so easily, so why are we not implementing our policies correctly?” he asked.

“Other countries are very vigilant when it comes to protecting its borders. Such an influx of foreigners have compromised our business sector. We are struggling to manage our SMEs,” said Ratswana.

“Regarding expropriation of land without compensation, we ask for this policy to be implemented as soon as possible.

“Lastly, when are the fights in the ANC going to stop? Can somebody publicly say they have resolved their issues? The ANC fights must stop because it has affected other sectors.”

Ward 45 committee member Past Mfunidisi Khoza said their complaint as a faith-based organisation is that the government is not taking them seriously, citing all sectors were assisted financially after the lockdown, but churches were not mentioned.

“We are leaders on the ground who help the youth, mothers and senior citizens. They depend on us as spiritual advisers to tell them how to respond to looting,” said Khoza.

“But we are misled as to the cause of the looting. Is it because of the arrest of people or is it because of hunger?
“As religious leaders, we ask that you empower us so when we stand up to speak we speak something that is in line with government policies and what it supports,” said Khoza.

Other grievances raised included lack of intelligence in law enforcement, job creation for ex-offenders, unsecured borders, lack of support of law enforcement agencies and sports in correctional services and communities.

The Department of Justice responds to grievances

Deputy Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Patekile Holomisa.

Lamola said the department is working on amending a law that will not require ex-offenders to apply for an expungement of criminal records anymore.

“It will automatically be expunged after 10 years, but the law still has to be presented to Parliament, so it will take time. For now, you still have to apply,” said Lamola.

On the issues of borders, Lamola explained that they are aware of the challenges and said they have recently put the Border Management Authority Act into action that will help to strengthen the borders and law enforcement agencies, which are supposed to help with border management issues.

Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola.

Expropriation of land without compensation

Lamola said expropriation of land without compensation is being implemented because Parliament has a process to follow.

He said a Constitutional amendment can take between one to three years.

“We are hoping for the process to conclude swiftly. In the meantime, we have put into action the expropriation bill that aims to achieve the objective of expropriation without compensation of certain pieces of land,” he continued.

“We are not saying all land must be expropriated without compensation and be put under the management of the State.

“Our view is that the land that we expropriate must be given to whoever wants to use it, whether for business, building a house or running a church,” he said.

Lamola said the government has released 700 hectares of land under the State’s ownership for various projects.

Fights within the ANC

“We have been faced with infighting, difficulties and differences. We are still dealing with those challenges, but we have to find a way to resolve them,” said Lamola.

“We also have to realise there is a new generation of young people who are unemployed and who want to see the country move forward.

“It is important for the organisation to become united and move forward because infights hinder the country’s progress.”

Lack of support for religious groups

Lamola assured faith-based organisations that government takes them serious, adding that if it was not for the religious community, Covid-19 could have been worse in the country.

“When Covid-19 started it was almost Easter. We engaged all faith-based organisations.

“Some of the churches wanted to defy us but the big churches like ZCC came out to say they will not have Easter gathering, and that helped us against the spread of Covid-19.”

He said they understand the realities that it affects not only the spirituality of people, but it also affects the income in the churches; hence, there have been discussions as to how to resolve some of the problems.

Food parcel donation to hostels

Boksburg Correctional Services and other stakeholders proceeded to the hostel after the meeting, where they handed out vegetables, cooking oil and eggs to residents.

Boksburg Correctional Services donated food parcels to residents at Sotho and Nguni hostels.

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