DA calls on MEC Maile to urgently intervene to stop illegal land invasion on provincial land in Klipspruit, Soweto

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng notes with great concern the illegal land invasion currently happening on the provincial land situated between K53 and N12 in Klipspruit, Soweto.

We have learnt that the illegal land invaders started to invade this land on Monday.

There are claims that the Johannesburg Metro police (JMPD) have failed to stop this illegal land invasion hence the land invaders are continuing to erect structures on this provincial owned land.

There are more than 100 shacks that have been erected on this provincial land.

The unnecessary delays in stopping these illegal land invaders will result in the formation of a new informal settlement in the area.

It is high time that the Gauteng MEC for Human Settlements and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Lebogang Maile acts swiftly in stopping these illegal land invasions and the mushrooming of new informal settlements.

The JMPD alone is not capable of clamping down on illegal land invasions and require assistance from SAPS and Maile’s department.

The illegal land invaders are breaking the lockdown regulations and committing a crime by invading the land.

The DA calls on MEC Maile to clamp down on illegal land invasions by enforcing the law against the illegal land invaders. Those caught illegally invading the land must be arrested and face the consequences of their actions.

How accurate are Gauteng Covid-19 hospital figures?

Official figures by the Gauteng Health Department indicate that the number of people in hospitals with Covid-19 has decreased from 5576 last week to 2487 as of yesterday. This sharp reduction is welcome but does not seem credible as infections continue to increase and hospitals are all crowded with patients.

The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) gives a figure of 2703 Covid-19 patients in Gauteng hospitals, with 2453 in private hospitals and 250 patients reported from only 5 public hospitals.

It appears that there is a severe under-reporting from public hospitals in Gauteng which needs to be rectified urgently as we need accurate figures to assess progress in fighting this terrible pandemic.

Tshwane Administrators should urgently intervene at Tshwane Fresh Produce Market

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is calling on the Tshwane Administrators to urgently intervene at the Tshwane Fresh Produce Market. To facilitate a solution, I have formally approached the portfolio committee on Agriculture in the Gauteng Legislature to facilitate collaboration between the City and Department of Agriculture to address the most immediate concerns at the market

The DA has had sight of dozens of letters from commercial concerns such as the Institute of Markets Agents of SA, Fruit and Veg City, Pretoria Stall Holders Association and many more prominent producers and buyers detailing their concerns and offering assistance to improve conditions at the market.

Currently there is no system in place to monitor any of the produce that arrives at the market. There is also no proper hygiene control measures in place, which is extremely concerning given that the entire country is battling to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Towards the end of June, the market was closed due to a positive case of Covid-19. Farmers were turned away with virtually no notice and perishable produce was left abandoned on the market floor.

There are also no proper public toilet facilities at the market and the toilets that are there are not properly maintained as there is sewage overflowing in the market on a daily basis.

In addition, there are no proper security measures in place to monitor the activities that take place at the Tshwane Fresh Produce Market.

In its current state, the fresh produce market is not compliant with health and safety standards and is at risk of being closed down by Occupational Health Authorities.

Given the fact that there are no proper cold storage and ripening facilities at the market means that the fresh produce producers will be at the losing end as they will not be able to keep their produce fresh.

At the heart of the problem appears to be the business model and institutional arrangements at the market. This is a problem that is well within the mandate and capabilities of the City administrators, or eventually the Council to solve, if only political will existed.

While, we await the ruling on the legality on the administrators in Tshwane intervention in this market is still seeking some collaboration with provincial government.

I will continue my efforts to get GDARD and the GPL to assist with immediate relief at the market, and facilitate an overhauled business model in the medium term.

DA welcomes the long overdue decision to close Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa Child and Youth Care Centre in Soshanguve

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng welcomes the decision by the Gauteng Department of Social Development to close down the Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa Child and Youth Care Centre in Soshanguve, Tshwane.

This decision which is long overdue was announced by the Gauteng MEC for Social Development, Nomathemba Mokgethi during the Gauteng Provincial Legislature’s (GPL) Social Development Portfolio Committee virtual meeting.

This centre, which has been plagued with numerous challenges ranging from corruption, mismanagement of funds and the neglect of children was closed last Friday.

According to MEC Mokgethi, this centre which houses 69 children has been closed due to structural defects and the fact that it is costing the department more money, about R1.4 million annually per child.

Since 2014, the DA has been calling on the department to intervene and act on these challenges facing this centre but the department ignored our concerns.

Furthermore, on several occasions the department denied our members of the GPL and the National Assembly access to conduct oversight visits at this centre.

While we welcome the decision to close this centre, we question why the department has overlooked the reports of August 2018 and February 2019 which clearly indicated that this centre was not conducive for human habitation.

The reports states that there are structural defects that are a severe threat to human life hence this centre has been operating on temporary occupational certificates.

There are also allegations that a child at this centre died because of a leg injury and the cause of death is still being questioned.

This centre was another Esidemini tragedy in waiting as the department has on several occasions been warned about the danger of this building, but they never listened.

Children from this centre will be placed in various centres across the Tshwane region. The department has also identified the Salvokop Centre which can accommodate 80 to 100 children. The employees of this centre will either be placed at other institutions and at the regional offices.

We will continue to monitor the process of the placement of children from this centre at other centres as well as the placement of the employees.

The DA calls on MEC Mokgethi to initiate an independent forensic investigation as a matter of urgency to determine why the centre has been operating despite the reports indicating that it was not conducive for human habitation. Those who are found to be guilty of deliberately ignoring these reports should face the consequences of their actions of putting the lives of these vulnerable children at risk.

Fishy Gauteng PPE contracts must be probed

The Gauteng Health Department needs to explain how a company owned by the husband of President Cyril Ramaphosa‘s spokesperson Khusela Diko reportedly scored a multi-million rand contract to supply Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to a report in the Sunday Independent yesterday, Madzikane Diko’s company, Royal Bhaca Projects (RBP), received part of the R2.2 billion PPE tenders awarded to 75 companies by the Gauteng Health Department since March 30, 2020.

It is also alleged that the department paid inflated prices, above the National Treasury’s regulated PPE price list published on April 15.

Diko has denied that RBP has a contract with the department or been paid any money, but the department’s expenditure report shows RBP was awarded another R47m PPE contract on March 30, two days before it got one for R78m on April 1.

Furthermore, it is alleged that RBP charged R58 per surgical mask compared to a regulated price of R12.48, and R85 per 500ml unit of Actigerm alcohol sanitiser, which is regulated at R46.37.

It appears that there were other fishy PPE suppliers for the R2.2 billion spent by the department in three months.

This may be the reason why the department’s Chief Financial Officer Kabelo Lehloenya resigned recently. We do not know if she was trying to stop the corruption or was perhaps implicated herself.

It should be unthinkable that anyone could benefit corruptly from this crisis by using connections to get contracts and charge rip-off prices.

I will be asking questions in the Gauteng Legislature to ensure that there is a proper investigation in this matter to ensure that all urgent purchases are value for money and free of corruption.

DA to push for urgent court date to resolve on the removal of ANC administrators in Tshwane

Three months after the North Gauteng High Court ruled that the ANC’s power-grab in the City of Tshwane was unlawful, and after further delaying tactics from the ANC, the legal bid to re-instate the lawful DA-led government of Tshwane is now a step closer.

Despite the urgency of the matter, and the unconstitutionality of the ANC administration in the City, the Gauteng Provincial Government delayed processes for several weeks.

After the Provincial Government finally submitted its heads of argument in its appeal under Section 18 (4) of the Superior Courts Act, the DA has been able to file its responding papers and the case can now continue.

In terms of the act, this matter has to be considered as being extremely urgent.  The administrators have now far exceeded the 90 days that is constitutionally permitted for them to have been in office, and in the meantime they are causing havoc in the City and seriously jeopardising service delivery.

The DA hopes to receive feedback soon from the Supreme Court of Appeal, as to the date on which the appeal can be heard.

We will then once again argue why the administrators should be removed from office immediately in accordance with the Gauteng North High Court judgement of 29 Aril 2020.

Each day that passes means that the illegally imposed and unlawful ANC administrators remain in office, in violation of the constitution.

The DA has remained steadfast in its commitment towards exposing this ANC power grab and the ensuing unlawful decision to dissolve the Tshwane Council.

At each step the courts have agreed with us.

The appeal at the Supreme Court will be one more opportunity to expose this power grab for what it is. A coup that has removed the democratically elected leaders from the City of Tshwane during a time of immense crisis and at great expense to the residents of the capital.

DA saddened by senseless killing of Gauteng Portfolio Committee Chairperson for Community Safety

Note to Editors: Please see corrected headline.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is saddened by the murder of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature’s (GPL) Community Safety Portfolio Committee Chairperson, Mapiti Matsena.

It is alleged that Matsena was stabbed to death at his house in Doornpoort, Tshwane by an unknown suspect.

The incident occurred last night  and the suspect is still at large. The motive for his murder is still unknown.

The fact that Matsena was stabbed to death at his place of residence once again indicates that no one is safe in their own homes in South Africa.

Matsena was dedicated and committed to fighting crime and ensuring the safety of all Gauteng residents.

We call on both the Gauteng MEC for Community Safety, Faith Mazibuko, and the Gauteng SAPS Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Elias Mawela, to launch a manhunt for the suspect and to ensure that no stone is left unturned.

The DA will continue to monitor the progress with regards to the investigation into this incident to ensure that the law takes its course and that the deceased’s family gets the justice they deserve.

The DA sends our deepest condolences to the family, relatives, friends, and the African National Congress on the loss of Matsena.

May his soul Rest in Eternal Peace.

DA calls on MEC Maile to work with municipalities to clamp down on illegal land invasions across the province

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is deeply concerned about numerous incidents of illegal land invasions occurring across the province yet the Gauteng MEC for Human Settlements and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs ( COGTA), Lebogang Maile is doing nothing to intervene and stop these illegal land invasions.

In Tshwane, the illegal land invasions are widespread. The illegal land invaders are now targeting small scale farmers and private land in Skurweplaas and Vlakplaats in Centurion. There are also illegal land invasions taking place on different properties in the area namely portion 45 of JR 354 and portion 6 of JR 354.

The rightful owners of the land claim that the police are failing to stop these illegal land invasions and the illegal land invaders are continuing to erect structures on their private land.

In Elandsfontein, illegal land invaders are refusing to move from the properties that they invaded after being legally removed and their structures destroyed following a court order in favour of the rightful property owners.

It is worrying that MEC Maile has not yet done anything to assist the rightful property owners to safeguard their properties against illegal land invaders.

MEC Maile is good at condemning these illegal land invasions on media and social media platforms yet there is no action.

Gauteng municipalities alone are not capable of clamping down on illegal land invasions and require assistance from Maile’s department.

MEC Maile’s department has failed to directly confront the issue of land invasion timeously hence these incidents of illegal land invasions and the development of new informal settlements will increase exponentially.

Despite the fact that the national government has put a moratorium on evictions, land invasion still remains illegal and can no longer be tolerated.

The lockdown regulation on evictions states that no person may be evicted from their residence, regardless of whether it is a formal or informal residence or a farm. The regulations do not state that people are allowed to illegally invade the land.

The DA calls on MEC Maile to work closely with municipalities to clamp down on illegal land invasions across the province.

The only solution to these illegal land invasions is for government to enforce the law against the illegal land invaders and to ensure that they deliver the houses that they promised our people. The Gauteng Department of Human Settlements should also speed up the process of allocating land opportunities to the deserving individuals to build their own houses.

Where are the field hospitals in Gauteng?

As public hospitals in Gauteng struggle to cope with Covid-19 patients only one field hospital is partially operating and a number of private sector proposals have been ignored by the provincial government.

The NASREC field hospital opened without piped oxygen and proper equipment for 500 beds and a further 800 planned beds still need to be completed. Last week doctors and volunteers at NASREC had to plead for donations of oxygen concentrators to assist patients.

Another four sites have been identified for field hospitals but are not ready to take patients even as Covid-19 cases surge in the province.

It is also disappointing that the provincial government has not supported the proposal by 80 professionals who volunteered to establish a field hospital at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand and said they could set it up in four weeks.

Another rejected initiative was that by Architects Boogertman and Partners to turn the FNB Soccer City Stadium in Soweto into a 1500-bed field hospital.

The missed opportunities and slow progress on field hospitals highlights the failure to use the lockdown period to prepare enough beds for the peak numbers of Covid-19 cases in Gauteng.

DA condemns in strongest terms organisations that are advocating for schools to close due to increasing Covid-19 cases in Gauteng

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng condemns in the strongest terms the organisations that are intending to shut down schools across the province. This is aimed at gaining publicity at the expense of learners.

The reasons being provided by these organisations on why they want schools to be closed are not based on any expert advice but are intended to instil fear amongst parents, learners, and teachers.

The DA strongly believes that only the schools without the necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and basic services must not operate until they have all the necessary required equipment and resources to ensure that they adhere to the standard health regulations.

The Gauteng Department of Education has an obligation to ensure the safety of both learners and teachers during this national lockdown period as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The department should ensure that it provides quality basic education to all children of school going age.

It is unfortunate that in most cases people who are advocating for schools to close have access to home schooling and online platforms.

While other learners mostly from underprivileged areas who attend quintile 1 to 3 schools benefit from attending school as they do not have access to online platforms as they cannot afford to buy data, portable phones and access to reliable networks.

This is the time to deal with inequalities instead of widening the gap to the advantage of the privileged.

We do note the increasing number of Covid-19 daily cases, and as the country is not on hard lockdown schools are safer places for many learners who are roaming the streets doing nothing. We urge principals to ensure that they follow the regulations and implement standard operating procedure when there is positive case reported.

Learners who are back at schools are settling in well and learning and teaching is continuing under these new normal conditions.

We urge parents not to be misled by these organisations who want to close down schools.

The DA will continue to monitor teaching and learning during this difficult period and ensure that the department provides all our schools with all the necessities required to ensure the safety of our learners and teachers.