Unrest at New Rest

ANGRY CROWD: With New Rest residents shouting as they demanded the allocation of plots and houses at Thornhill, traffic was stopped on the R67 on Friday due to burning trees and rocks. Those drivers that managed to get past the obstruction were pelted with stones, and the police were called out to prevent accidents and reopen the road Picture: ROB KNOWLES

STONES were thrown at cars that attempted to get passed the impromptu roadblock at the entrance to the New Rest informal settlement on the R67 on Friday in order to draw attention to the plight of the people there who have been awaiting houses for the last 17 years.

“The residents of New Rest were never meant to be here for so long,” said community leader Xhalisile Nganqu. “In all this time there has been no movement by the municipality, and we are tired of waiting.”

Nganqu was clear that the Thornhill Township development on the other side of the R67 was meant to take the shack dwellers in the New Rest area and provide proper housing.

“The environment where we live is unhealthy, with no electricity and, when it rains, the roads are so bad that people can’t get in or out,” he said. Residents are not just requesting houses but also the plots of land to enable them to build their own houses.

In the past Ndlambe Municipality stated the Thornhilll development was built primarily to move the residents of the New Rest informal settlement into houses. At that time the municipality stated that the informal shacks at New Rest would be demolished in order to prevent others from moving there. However, since it was built there have been questions raised as to those who qualified for an RDP house, and instances cited where some councillors had allegedly benefitted at the expense of the community members for whom the houses were built.

According to the police, SAPS were called out when reports were received that cars had been stoned while passing the road block. But, after the police had moved the obstructions from the road Ndlambe speaker, Vivian Maphaphu, together with Ward 6 councillor, MK Raco, arrived and organised a meeting with residents for Tuesday when their grievances can be aired.

“They want houses, they want sites to build houses as well as houses,” said Maphaphu. “The municipality will give a detailed statement next week about the sites in question.”