Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu says she will take legal action against land and housing activist, Nkosikhona Swartbooi.
This is after the two clashed during the minister’s inspection in fire-damaged Taiwan informal settlement in Khayelitsha on Tuesday.
According to videos circulating on social media, the activist recorded the proceedings and went on to ask Sisulu to not make empty promises to the people of Taiwan “like you did in Mpolweni”.
In response, Sisulu took off her mask and accused the activist of lying.
“No, no…you are lying. You are not going to tape me and talk nonsense. You are talking rubbish, just switch that off. Switch that off. I have said that I will bring the building materials here,” she said.
She has been criticised following the incident, particularly by One South Africa leader Mmusi Maimane.
Government officials should not engage with the media or the public like this. This is not acceptable. pic.twitter.com/sANi0uXjAb
— Mmusi Maimane (@MmusiMaimane) January 6, 2021
In a statement, Sisulu said the man displayed “rude behaviour” after she warned him to refrain from recording her.
Sisulu condemned the man’s behaviour, adding that “it is very despicable for anyone to exploit the plight of destitute people for self-aggrandisement”.
“Why is he masquerading as a journalist distorting the truth, and whose interests is he advancing?
“In the first place, he had no reason to be at my meeting with affected residents of Taiwan because he does not even reside there, neither is he a journalist. He went there with the sole aim of disrupting my meeting by asking questions that were totally unrelated to the disaster in Taiwan.
“This is not only heartless but a shameless act of an individual hell-bent on hijacking the plight of the poor people for self-interest,” Sisulu said.
She said she was in consultation with her lawyers, and would be taking their advice to take legal action against him.
“I will never be deterred from serving the poorest of the poor and I will do everything in my power to see to it that no one hijacks their plight for self-serving motives. And no amount of disruptions by planted agent provocateurs and shameless attention seekers will stop us from helping affected community members of Masiphumelele, Taiwan and many others across the country affected by similar disasters,” she said.
Meanwhile, government has announced it will provide R32 million in relief funding to the communities of Masiphumelele and Taiwan.
The money will be used to provide temporary structures, water and sanitation facilities to the affected residents.
Sisulu met with Western Cape human settlements MEC Tertius Simmers and City of Cape Town mayoral committee member for human settlements Malusi Booi on Tuesday to “fast-track” the relief, she said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The area was declared a disaster to enable resources to be allocated for the immediate relief and response to more than 6000 residents affected by the fire. Some residents will be accommodated on a nearby sports field, while others will be assisted on part of an affected fire site that has been cleared. Erection of the temporary structures will commence immediately.”
Compiled by Vhahangwele Nemakonde