MEDIA ALERT: The MMC’s selective righteousness ignores citizens plight to adequate housing

Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) notes with extreme concern the comments attributed to the Tshwane MMC for Human Settlements, Mr M Nkomo regarding the demolition of residences at the ‘Transnet Depot’ in the newspaper article entitled “Bid to force the city to rebuild demolished shacks” published on page 6 of the Pretoria News on 1 December 2016. The MMC seems selective in being quick to condemn the alleged violent character of land invasions whilst seemingly disregarding outright criminal acts perpetrated by the Tshwane Metropolitan police. Whilst it is not clear which facts were communicated to the MMC to elicit such comments to the incident, it is important to highlight the following:

  • The applicants in this case (residents) did not engage in a violent land invasion. As it can be gleaned from the court papers, the applicants settled in this area at different times (dating back to 1995 and as recent as 2012), they did so peacefully and have never been requested to vacate the premises by the landowner.
  • It was Tshwane Metropolitan police officers – so-called servants of the city which the MMC represents – who acted both criminally and violently in this case. Not only did the Metro police officers run roughshod over the country’s Constitution which, in no uncertain terms, requires a court order to be obtained before any eviction proceedings can be undertaken but also acted criminally and with malice as they burnt to a crisp the homes and belongings of extremely poor and vulnerable residents.
  • Further, as if this ‘scorched earth’ policy were not enough, when residents tried to save from burning some of the meagre belongings of other residents who were not present at the time of the incident, the Metro police officers once again acted criminally by ignored basic principles of human dignity and instead opened fire on such residents with rubber bullets.  

Instead of making unsubstantiated allegations about violent land invasions, we urge the MMC to spend more time ensuring that   city officials are held accountable and preventing them from acting both violently and criminally towards poor people, flagrantly disregarding the country’s laws.