Seven RDP homes set alight in Siyahlala KZN, as housing debacle continues

Sitting beneath the scorching sun on Thursday afternoon, 22 October 2020, a group of enraged residents eagerly waited for Newcastle Mayor, Cllr Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba outside Fairleigh Community Hall, to address their unsolved issues.

Baring in mind seven RDP homes were set alight the previous evening (Wednesday 21 October 2020), as infuriated residents were left without answers—signifying that the housing debacle in Siyahlala Informal Settlement and Fairleigh, KwaZulu-Natal, is far from over. 

The houses were set ablaze following a community meeting which was set to take place with Cllr Dr Mahalba earlier that day, yet did not transpire. According to residents, their frustration turned to anger as the Mayor failed to attend the meeting.

However, according to municipal sources, Cllr Dr Mahalba was involved in a meeting which focused on the issues pertaining to the residents’ concerns and was therefore unable to attend the community meeting. With the meeting being rescheduled for Thursday noon—residence waited, and tensions bubbled. Especially when noon came and went, yet the Mayor had still not arrived.

Looking at the atmosphere in the area over the past few days, Mervyn Ryland explains tensions have been running high. Especially when looking at how long the community has been waiting for answers.

He elaborates, “This problem has been going on for between three to four years. We even brought this matter up with the previous Mayor.”

However, Ryland says residents were only given empty promises. Their plight, falling on deaf ears. 

The biggest issue they faced was the illegal occupancy of RDP houses, which were promised to the aforementioned people.

Allegedly, these homes were being sold and not being allocated to residents as initially promised. Ryland points out, “We have been living here for years; I do not understand how local government doesn’t think we will notice people from outside moving in.”

Another resident claims she and her mother have been living in Fairleigh for 40 years and still, she has not received any joy. She adds, “My mother has already died, and I am still fighting for my home.”

By 1 pm, residents were livid as the Mayor had still not arrived—this resulted in many residents leaving in unison.

One resident went as far as to say, “They are taking us for fools. They have no respect for us, their people. More homes will now burn.”

Thankfully the Mayor arrived, thereby calming the crowd to some degree. He addressed the remaining residents and assured them the Newcastle Municipality took the complaints seriously.

Determined to end the debacle, Dr Cllr Mahlaba emphasised that he and his team would be clamping down on corruption and those involved in the alleged selling of RDP homes.

Moving forward, another meeting will be held at Fairleigh Community Hall on Monday morning, 26 October 2020.

This meeting will not be focused on talking about housing issues, but instead enforcing solutions. The Mayor has urged residents to come with documentation and proof that they were meant to receive housing. If it is found that they were bypassed, the Mayor assured that the authorities, which included the SAPS, would then take the matter further and see perpetrators face legal repercussions.

While the meeting started with irate residents willing to fight for their rights, it proved to be a fruitful discussion. The residents are now eager to see if the necessary steps will now be taken against those involved in the RDP home corruption debacle.

Authors: Quinton Boucher and Calvin Swemmer

Edited: Calvin Swemmer

2 thoughts on “Seven RDP homes set alight in Siyahlala KZN, as housing debacle continues

  1. Whoever is behind in illegal allocation of houses without considering the waiting list must be account and consequence management must be applied by the relevant authorities.
    Although the residents of Siyahla may have genuine concerns setting alight houses must be condemned.

  2. I am very sad that they broke my mother’s house and stay inside without us knowing was very shocked yesterday when I went there to check cz I took my mom cz she’s very sick n she’s been staying at Siyahlala for years just because we were not staying wit her when we go there to check for her they’re saying they don’t know us n my moms furniture is inside the house

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