Miners hijack homes for poor


Desperate Lonmin mineworkers have allegedly hijacked some of the 292 RDP homes that were meant for destitute families in Marikana, North West.

The illegal occupation started this week when people believed to be Lonmin employees broke into some of the unfinished homes in Marikana West.

The housing project, which includes an additional 252 flats still under construction, is a joint venture between Lonmin and North West Human Settlements Department. It was officially launched last month.

Provincial human settlement department spokesman Ben Bole said they were busy drawing up a court application to have the illegal occupants evicted.

The illegal takeover escalated to chaos as legitimate beneficiaries were kicked out and forced to find alternative accommodation this week. Marikana West remained tense yesterday.

“You can’t come here and ask about who owns these houses. We will burn you and your car. Even police are scared of coming here. I suggest you leave now,” an illegal occupant warned Sowetan.

Marikana West ward councillor Appearance Ndlovu, whom the community removed from his position last week, could not be reached for comment.

His house was burnt down in December.

Wonderkop ward councillor Sivuyile Mpongwana blamed Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union leader Joseph Mathunjwa for hijacking a government initiative and making it theirs.

“The miscommunication began when it was time for allocations. Mineworkers thought the project was theirs and forced their way into those houses and even invited their relatives. Mathunjwa failed his people. He must come here and tell his members to vacate those houses and stop intimidating legal beneficiaries,” said Mpongwana.

Mathunjwa could not be reached for comment.

Lonmin spokesman Happy Nkhoma said the confusion was caused by a break down in communication between them and their employees.

“The mine is not involved in the building or allocation of RDP houses. All we did was to provide the government land to build homes. Our employees don’t qualify for RDPs because they earn a minimum of R9000 a month and are also employed, which means they are automatically rejected,” said Nkhoma.

He said their company had secured some units at the new flats exclusively for mineworkers.