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Residents furious over Geldenhuys informal settlement

Goslin said the court order for the relocation dated back to 2014 but the community was not informed of this arrangement.

Residents of Bonaero Park are furious over the establishment of the Geldenhuys informal settlement on their doorstep.

The community was told 30 shacks would be allocated to a property but was not informed of this arrangement.

“As we understand it, some of the Glen Marikana residents still need to be placed.

“We got word that they want to relocate 30 families to Caro Nome in Bonaero Park. This was never properly communicated to the Bonaero Park residents and homeowners,” said resident Nico Cronje.

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“This is privately owned property and does not belong to the City of Ekurhuleni (CoE). We were only told that someone from the Ekurhuleni housing department visited the area to take measurements for shacks to be built.”

According to Cronje, the residents contacted SAPS and ward councillor Gerald Goslin.

Police officers told him they could not do anything because the land was private property and the property owner needed to take action.

Goslin said he was waiting for feedback from CoE officials.

“There are already families staying on the property and they are also not happy about the prospect of more shacks added.

Paseka Radebe, councillor Gerald Goslin and William Likotsi (chairperson of the informal settlement).

“It is already overcrowded and cannot handle more people. These families have been staying there for a few years now,” said Cronje.

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“We urgently need to stop more people being allowed to take up residence on this private plot. According to my knowledge, Ekurhuleni does not have the right to evict people from one place and relocate them to a private property,” said Cronje.

Fellow resident, Marzanne van Niekerk said the informal settlement was a huge problem.

“There is always drinking, littering and alcohol bottles are being broken in the street. More and more people keep moving onto this very small piece of land.”

She added crime in Bonaero Park was the worst it has ever been.

“We cannot sell our properties because nobody wants to buy here. Our property value is below the market value because of this.

“Residents on the property dump their rubbish in the open field next to the Outeniqua Complex. Some residents even urinate in the open.

“We do not feel safe driving around at night. We need help with this because we do not know where to turn to anymore.”

Van Niekerk said they wanted the ground sold to a developer so that the shacks could be removed.

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Bonaero Park resident Megan Ellis said there were two informal settlements in Bonaero Park and they had been there for a while.

“However, in the last week of April, a massive amount of squatters were suddenly allowed to move into the area. The state of living is shocking, dirty, and unsafe, because of the extra residents.

“Our already overloaded sewerage system has deteriorated even more and we have more raw sewage in our street and our park,” said Ellis.

“We also had an increase in theft in the area. We had wall-jumpers, theft of clothing, shoes, washing lines and plastic containers,” she said.

“We would like the residents of the informal settlement to be removed immediately. There should be proper upgrades of all infrastructure in Bonaero Park before adding more residents to a failing system.”

Ellis added she had tried to contact the owner numerous times but to no avail.

She said she attempted to contact the municipality, but they told her it was out of their hands and that they could not give her the contact details of the owner.

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Another resident, Madelaine Stander, said she stays on Geldenhuys Road near the Checkers complex in Bonaero Park.

Stander said they did not want to walk to the shops because it was not safe anymore.

“The squatters have been there for more than two years. The place where the squatters live is in a terrible state, with litter everywhere,” said Stander.

“The residents of the settlement drink alcohol and break the bottles in the street.”

The Kempton Express visited the Geldenhuys informal settlement with Goslin and William Likotsi, chairperson of the informal settlement on May 9 and found 10 out of the proposed 30 shacks already installed.

Goslin confirmed he was not informed about the additional shacks on the property.

“The residents and I, as the ward councillor, were not properly engaged and notified about the additional residents being moved into the already occupied settlement.

“There was no public or official engagement from the CoE, and only after I was notified about the scenario by Sector 6, Bonaero Park CPF, was I able to get a brief meeting with the Human Settlements Department,” said Goslin.

According to Goslin, this case has been ongoing for the past 10 years.

“Earlier this year, the Gauteng High Court ordered the CoE to action the order given to them in 2014 because the department was already in contempt of court for not having acted within the specified timeframe given to them by the court.”

Goslin said the court order for the relocation dated back to 2014.

Goslin said the current occupation of the property in question was, in all terms, illegal.

He said in 2014, a private property owner successfully approached the High Court and was granted an eviction order.

Ten of 30 shacks at the Geldenhuys informal settlement.

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“The Department of Human Settlements was ordered to relocate the current occupiers of the land to within a 5km radius of their address.

“The department investigated the available council properties to relocate the residents and in doing so, they identified the vacant municipal-owned property on Geldenhuys Street,” he said.

“However, the department stated they considered the implications of erecting new shacks on the open field and the negative impact thereof and concluded the better alternative would be to move these residents into the already established settlement contained within number 14 Geldenhuys Street.

“This was done to prevent the mushrooming of more shacks in the open field and, therefore, creating another informal settlement.”

Goslin added the department wanted to do away with informal settlements and RDP housing as they had realised that this would never be a sustainable solution for the current housing issue.

“Instead, they are alternatively promoting First Homeowners Subsidies or FHS.

“The property next to the current illegal informal settlement has been identified and allocated for this purpose and, therefore, still kept for this reason.

“I have engaged with numerous stakeholders and the department on possible, feasible solutions and time frames for this and await positive responses,” said Goslin.

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