Public Protector asked to investigate Thabazimbi Municipality over alleged sale of land to a mine

THABAZIMBI – Public Protector Adv Thuli Madonsela addressed a hall packed with Thabazimbi residents where she was asked by the community to investigate among other things an alleged sale of land meant for RDP houses by a council to a mine.

While receiving community complaints on Wednesday, 15 August, 2012 and being informed of the planned mass action on Thursday, the Public Protector appealed to communities to abandon the action as it poses risks for community members and was not necessary when communication channels with government are open.

She called on the communities to engage in public dialogue using mechanisms provided by the Constitution to address public grievances.

She promised the communities that her office would facilitate the implementation of an action plan to be agreed between the municipality and the community regarding concerns they had previously raised with the municipality in a memorandum on 03 July 2011 and the concerns raised at the public hearing that can be attended to by the municipality expeditiously.

The event was part of Public Protector Stakeholder Dialogue and public hearings focusing on problems in the delivery of RDP houses and regulatory gaps in the alleged illegal conversion of panel vans into taxis.

Communities accused the municipality of not playing fair in the allocation of RDP houses and other key service delivery issues. Some alleged that some projects in the municipality were left incomplete without an explanation.

On the RDP front, the communities told the Public Protector about the poor standard of RDP houses in their area. They said the houses were small, some structurally defective. Many complained about RDP houses being sold to people of foreign nationality who work in the nearby mines.

Others complained about dual allocation of RDP houses to undeserving owners. One complainant told the Public Protector about his RDP which he signed for but currently occupied by somebody else.

Allegations of corruption were also levelled against the municipal staff, councillors and contractors. Some complained about lack of medicine in clinics and hospitals and lack of access to electricity and water at one primary school in Smash Block.

Residents of informal settlement, which are many in Thabazimbi, told the Public Protector about lack of roads, access to jobs and development opportunities particularly for young persons. There was also an allegation that jobs and contracts were given to outsiders.

In a briefing before the meeting, Thabazimbi mayor Councillor Patricia Mosito highlighted service delivery constraints faced by the municipality. These included the mushrooms of informal settlement, migrant labour in the mines, illegal occupation of houses, RDP housing problems and budgetary constraints.

Responding to the allegations and complaints, the Public Protector told communities that all their complaints will be investigated. She promised them that they will elevate their concerns to the relevant authorities and ensure that they respond. This will include the municipality advising her office on how much they had budgeted for Integrated Development Plan (IDP) and RDP houses.

She also called for the review of the housing list and that a plan be presented to assist those who been waiting for too long, some for more than ten years.

Most of the complaints the Public Protector received are similar to those raised by communities in the Polokwane on Tuesday which the Public Protector presented to the provincial leadership in a meeting between the Provincial Executive Council and Legislature in Polokwane.

The Public Protector and the Provincial Legislature agreed in principle to join hands and work more closely through the legislature’s Public Petitions Committee.

Next week the Public Protector dialogue goes to Mpumalanga.

The Public Protector, Adv Thuli Madonsela addressing the residents of Thabazimbi on Wednesday 15 August. At the table is Mayor Mosito (middle) and Speaker, Cllr Matsietsa (left).