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SAHRC concerned about Minister Sexwale statements and plan on Lenasia.

6th December 2012

ATTTENTION: Editors and Reporters

The South African Human Rights Commission would like to express displeasure and disappointment at the manner in which the Department of Human Settlements and Gauteng Department of Housing and Local Government has conducted itself by unilaterally calling a meeting on the Lenasia housing matter without involving other stakeholders serving on the Special Lenasia Intervention Team (SPLIT).

More concerning are the remarks and statements made by the Minister of Human Settlements Mr Tokyo Sexwale to the media at the same meeting in Pretoria in which he appeared to go against the agreements reached in the SPLIT’s initial meeting held on the 28th November 2012.

The SPLIT is made up of among others the officials from the Department of Human Settlements, Gauteng Local Government and Housing, SAHRC, Legal Resources Centre, and the residents of Lenasia.
The SAHRC notes with grave concern that despite undertakings at the all-inclusive stakeholder meeting at the Department’s Head Office in Pretoria on the 28th of November 2012, processes have been embarked upon, which have resulted in the development and apparent unilateral adoption of the so-called Lenasia Intervention Plan (LIP) to address the crisis in Lenasia.

The LIP has been developed with no consultation at any level with stakeholders, including the SAHRC. In this sense the process adopted despite the timelines imposed for resolution, disregards the order of the South Gauteng High Court in which the SAHRC is in fact the applicant. For the Department to satisfy the criteria of an amicable solution in the matter, the SAHRC believes, at a minimum, consultation was vital between the parties.

The SAHRC has reviewed the LIP released by the Department on the 5th of December, and has found material inaccuracies on many fronts including the fact that the plan has referred to a finding by the court earlier in the matter, which is the subject of an appeal, and an incorrect understanding of the court order granted to the SAHRC in November 2012. That order does not give the Commission 30 days in which to investigate the matter, but rather endorses an agreement between the parties to reach an amicable resolution of the matter. More importantly a number of actions are detailed which disregard the impact of outcomes of the appeal in the matter.

Such material inaccuracies are cause for serious concern in attempting to reconcile the general content of the LIP with the equity and compliance-based framework presented at the meeting of the 28th of November 2012. Particularly where immediate discontinuation of basic amenities like access to water are concerned.

The intervention plan, for instance, calls for immediate disconnection of “illegal” electricity and water before the process to identify “bona fide” occupiers/owners could be completed. It is our view that view LIP could have been more constructively engaged on and would have been materially more defensible had basic consultation been undertaken.

That the Department of Human Settlement and Gauteng Housing and Local Government have already moved to adopt this plan is indeed unfortunate, unacceptable, and effectively breaks the trust which was the basis of the envisaged mediated settlement.

While the SAHRC strives to support the parties in this matter achieve an amicable resolution as per the court order, it is not possible to do so in light of the objections received from representatives of the community, most of whom were not at the meeting this week, relating to the formulation and adoption of the LIP. More importantly the SAHRC will not detract from the role it has been entrusted by the Constitution and the court in this matter.

The SAHRC calls on Minister Sexwale and his department to urgently convene a meeting of all the SPLIT stakeholders where the status of the LIP can be discussed and a framework for consultation on the project can more comprehensively be established prior to any further steps in this matter being undertaken. We would also like to emphasize that the SAHRC reserves its right to resume litigation in this matter should its concerns not be addressed with urgency in the next 48 hours.

ENDS.

Issued by:
Isaac Mangena
Head: Communications
South African Human Rights Commission
071884 8273
For comments email info@sahrc.org.za [Back]



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