Pretoria – Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga wants to build a wall to separate two communities, after battles erupted between Mamelodi home owners and residents of a neighbouring informal settlement.
The violence, which began on Wednesday evening and continued well into Thursday, saw the petrol bombing of several bond houses and more than 50 shacks.
In something reminiscent of the Berlin Wall or US President Trump’s idea of building a wall to separate the US and Mexico, Msimanga has suggested that a wall is needed between the warring community of Mahube Valley Extension One in Mamelodi, and residents of an informal settlement called Mountain View.
On Wednesday evening, clashes broke out between the two communities after a substation was damaged, allegedly caused by illegal electricity connections by residents of the informal settlement.
Many families from both communities have been left destitute and their belongings destroyed in the fires.
The mayor organised alternative accommodation for them and said a series of meetings would be held to solve the issues that these two communities were facing.
Tensions remained palpably volatile throughout Thursday, with residents making petrol bombs in plain sight during the afternoon. Police confiscated the already made Molotov cocktails and petrol stored in a plastic canister.
Msimanga addressed residents from both communities separately.
He pleaded with Mountain View residents to be patient, to avoid further violence, and stop making illegal connections.
He added that the informal settlement would be moved further away from the bond houses, and a buffer created to separate the two communities.
‘It is now an eye for an eye’
He told Mahube Valley residents that their electricity would be restored before they went to bed on Thursday evening, and that all illegal connections would be removed.
Msimanga said that informal dwellers could not be evicted immediately, but that a wall would be built to separate the two communities.
“The wall should be built as soon as possible,” said Msimanga.
Some Mahube Valley residents asked Msimanga to evict their neighbours immediately, and threatened to burn the entire informal settlement to the ground if this was not done.
“We have reached a point where it is now an eye for an eye,” one resident told Msimanga.
Homes, belongings destroyed
One resident, Florence Motise was home with her two children – a teenager, 16, and toddler, 3 – when someone threw a petrol bomb into her living room on Wednesday night. Her husband was at work at the time.
She narrowly escaped the inferno with her two kids, who are now traumatised.
The fire destroyed most of what they owned; the house is no longer liveable.
Motise said she was both angry and sad that everything they had worked for had been destroyed, and their lives were put in danger.
A resident from Mountain View, who didn’t want to be named, said his shack, with all his belongings, had also been destroyed after it was set alight on Wednesday night.
Another said that, while he was at work, his shack was petrol bombed, and that his newborn baby had died from smoke inhalation while his wife tried to find help. This has not been confirmed.
Both communities blame each other for being the initiators of Wednesday’s violence, with residents of Mahube Valley saying the informal dwellers were taking electricity and water illegally and leaving them with the bill.
Residents from both communities said they were unable to go to work as they needed to protect their families and homes.
Public order policing had been deployed to the area and would remain there until the situation between the two communities was resolved.