GEORGE NEWS - Floors Conradie stood helpless as municipal officials with police backup tore down temporary structures attached to a brick and mortar house in Restant Street, Rosemoor.
Conradie told the George Herald that on the morning of Tuesday 9 October, a youngster told him he'd better go home straight away, as officials from the municipality's Human Settlements department were about to demolish his shack and the living quarters of four indigent people on the property, one a middle-aged lady who can only move on crutches. He said it was the only home they know.
George municipal director of Human Settlements, Charles Lubbe, confirmed that a court order was served by the sheriff of the court in 2016 for the demolition of all illegal structures.
"Both municipal officials and the sheriff had discussions with the owner on various occasions to communicate the intention of the court and also to convince them to rectify the matter as per the court order." Lubbe said some of the structures encroached onto the adjacent properties.
In response to Lubbe's statement Conradie said he had delivered a hand-written plan on behalf of Louisa Vera Lee, in whose name the erf is registered, as requested by the Department of Planning years ago. In reply to the allegation that his structures encroached onto the adjacent stands he said, "I was with the group that occupied this open piece of land behind the Rosemoor Clinic in the early 2000s. I was here before the boundaries came." He claims the immediate neighbours have no problems with the structure, as they know him as a community leader who looks after people in distress.
Lubbe explained that the Rosemoor informal area where Conradie's structure was demolished originated when backyard residents occupied this area illegally.
Emergency services were provided to the families and Council resolved during 2004 that several public open spaces be zoned for housing purposes. A waiting list for participants of the project known as the 'Infill erven' housing project was compiled. The upgrading of this informal area was part of the 'Infill erven' project, and families who resided on these erven and qualified for a subsidy were identified as beneficiaries of the project.
Conradie said that Lee's house originally formed part of the self-build schemes that developed in the area. "I bought [collected] the building materials and built a house for Lee, the mother of my child, and the municipality paid for the material. I stayed in the wooden structure attached to the house."
The Human Settlements Department, however, said that Conradie was not identified as one of the beneficiaries of the project and no erf was allocated to him. There is no record that any subsidy was paid. The upgrade of the informal area was done under a PHP housing programme and no self-build loans were involved in this project. A plan is only approved if it can be linked to an erf. In view of the fact that the structure was on Lee's erf and exceeded her erf boundaries, the notice of removal was addressed to her.
Lee said she accepts the boundary dispute but pleads with the municipality to allow Conradie, who now temporarily lives with her, to construct an emergency temporary structure on her side of the boundary for the poor people that desperately need shelter.
"If the municipality just drops the material, Conradie will put up the structure himself."
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