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Protests
Mamahule residents in Limpopo protest over lack of service delivery
12 April 2021, 6:00 PM

Residents of Mamahule outside Polokwane in Limpopo are angry that they have been excluded from the service delivery budget of the Polokwane Municipality. They blocked off the major road between Mankweng and Polokwane with burning tyres, earlier on Monday.

There is also a dispute with a private owner over the territory they occupy. It is alleged that the residents built houses on the land illegally.

The Mamahule land dispute has been causing confusion between its private owner, the Department of Land Reform, the Polokwane Municipality and the residents who allegedly invaded it. As a result, there is no provision of services from the municipality on the land along the R71 road between Polokwane and Mankweng.

Residents want the area to be included in the 2021-2022 budget of the Polokwane Municipality.

“Service delivery, which is water and electricity … those two things are our basic rights and needs. We are not happy because we are excluded at the budget. We need electricity. It is dark here. We need water because water is a basic right. We can’t go on. We are longer in the IDP. We need clarity on that,” one resident told SABC News.

Municipal Spokesperson, Thipa Selala, says they will divulge the details of the situation in the area after meeting with the residents and officials from the Land Reform Department.

The Polokwane Municipality also says since the land is privately owned, the owner must apply for services at the municipality.

Eleven people are currently on trial at the Seshego Regional Court for allegedly selling stands in Mamahule.

Meanwhile, three people were shot and wounded and a house burnt down during a land dispute in the area two months ago.

Farmers
Ex-combatants on a mission to stave off poverty in rural Eastern Cape
12 April 2021, 4:20 PM

Ex-combatants from liberation movements affiliated to different political parties are playing a significant role in fighting poverty through agricultural programmes in the Eastern Cape’s O R Tambo region.

They are working on eight hectares of land that produces quality potatoes at kwaMbiza village outside Ngqeleni. Through the municipality’s financial injection, the project has also created jobs for the unemployed youth.

OR Tambo Mayor, Thokozile Sokhanyile, has described this as an outstanding project.

“It’s project that is meant for those people that were fighting for this freedom and those people are from the military’s veterans of the MK, SANDF and the others whereby, we have said that they must come up with the project and they came up with these potatoes,” says Sokhanyile.

Such projects assist with food security. Those involved in this project say feeding the poor is their priority.

Jongilizwe Mpokwana, one of them, says, “Since we are the former soldiers, when we came back from the bush we learnt something, like to produce some potatoes. So far, we are happy we learnt. I am very much happy.”

Xoliswa Mpongwana’s late father spent years in exile. He also played a part in the formation of the potato co-operative before he passed on.

Mpongwana says at least her father left them with skills to till the land.

“So far, I have learnt that utilising the soil is much better because there are no more jobs now. People have lost jobs due to COVID-19. So, by using this soil, which our father left us with, I think we are going to live for the future,” she says.

The participants in the project aim to get into commercial farming.

Mayor Sokhanyile says, locally, the market is doing well as potatoes are in demand.

“After reaping these potatoes, they will go to the fresh Kie produce market, where they would be sorted and washed and there is a market already. There are people who are going to take these potatoes. So, even the village here, the people are assisting and they are going to get skills necessary,” adds the Mayor.

The former freedom fighters want to venture into commercial farming and are hoping for more land to realise their dream amid fencing, transport and farming equipment challenges.

Potholes
We are working around the clock to repair damaged roads: JRA
8 April 2021, 8:22 PM

The Johannesburg Roads Agency says it’s working around the clock to repair potholes and damage to roads due to bad weather, ageing infrastructure and increases in traffic volumes.

An audit, conducted by the JRA in February this year, found that there are almost 20 000 requests to fix potholes in the city.

Motorists say they have had enough of maneuvering around potholes in the city.

“These potholes are too much. The conditions are getting worse by day but nothing is being done,” says one motorist.

“You are lucky if you were to drive for over a month without a flat or a damaged tyre,” says another motorist.

Some residents in Fairland, north of Johannesburg, took matters into their own hands and fixed the potholes themselves.

Several unemployed individuals are also doing the same – filling potholes up with sand while collecting tips from passing motorists.

JRA Spokesperson, Themba Mathibe, says they are working around the clock.

“JRA is addressing the increasing number of road defects caused by various factors, including ageing infrastructure and weather conditions, as well as an increase in population, which has a strain on our roads across all regions. We conducted an audit, which found over 19 000 requests for potholes and 4 000 for patching and reinstatement,” says Mathibe.

He says they have already appointed contractors that will deal with the problem.

Mathibe says over R50 million has been budgeted for the programme.

“In the mid-term adjustment budget, we allocated R53 million, which includes curbing and maintenance requests. Four main contractors have been appointed to execute the plan. These main contractors will subcontract local SMME’s in the areas. Instead of focusing only on three regions, this time around we will be focusing on all seven regions in the city.”

Since last year, the JRA has lost over R10 million in claims by motorists for damaged tyres.

“In terms of the claims that motorists can make as a result of a damaged tyres for the potholes, we have received, thus far, 318 in total. And in terms of payouts, we have paid about R10 million since last year.”

The JRA intends to also introduce a nightshift for road works to fast-track the process.

Airlink
Polokwane International Airport loses commercial air service license
8 April 2021, 7:03 PM

The Polokwane International Airport has lost its license to operate commercial air services over non-compliance with the required minimum standards. The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) downgraded the airport to Category 2, which does not cater to commercial flights.

Airline company, Airlink, has stopped its flights to Polokwane after it was advised by the SACAA about the downgrade.

The suspension of flights to Polokwane by Airlink leaves the province without any commercial flight services.

Airlink Chief Executive and Managing Director, Rodger Foster, says the decision to suspend flights is mandatory following the absence of aerodrome and rescue fire fighter services.

“The decision to suspend services is not Airlink’s decision, but is mandatory in the absence of the required category aerodrome and rescue firefighter services and flights, from Wednesday onwards, have been suspended until the airport complies with it its license requirement. The suspension of service will cause a destruction which is regrettable and most unfortunate especially as so there was no prior notice,” explains Foster.

The Chief Executive says they are waiting for the Polokwane airport management for clarification on what will happen next.

“We are still awaiting answers from the Polokwane airport management as to when the airport will be able to resume its normal category which is Category 7. This aircraft required a minimum of Category 4 for the 29 seat type, Category 5 for 37 seat type,” explains Foster.

The airport’s new board plans on appealing the downgrading. The provincial Transport Department says it will assist. Transport Spokesperson, Motemi Moremi-Tauetsoala, says they will work with the board to attend to non-compliance issues raised by the aviation authority.

“The shareholder will give the full support to the new board, which has been appointed (effective from the) 1st of April, immediately to start the process to appeal the decision and also give them support to immediately finalise any other issue raised with the airport,” Moremi-Tauetsoala adds.

The Gateway Airports Authority Limited (GAAL), which is responsible for managing all airports in Limpopo, was described as the worst performing entity in the province by the Standing Committee on Public Accounts last year. About R14 million was unaccounted for in the 2018/2019 financial year at GAAL.

Court
R4.8 million fraud case involving former ANC MP postponed
8 April 2021, 7:00 PM

The High Court in Polokwane has postponed the R4.8 million fraud and theft case against four people, including a former Member of Parliament, to next month.

Former MP, Stanfort Maila, and three co-accused allegedly colluded in the awarding of a farming tender and stole money belonging to the Makgatho Community Property Association in Limpopo.

Former Member of Parliament, Stanfort Maila, and his co-accused Maphala Mosena, who is the municipal manager of the Molemole Local Municipality, bank employee Manase Makgatho and former Chairperson of Makgatho Community Property Association, Erick Makgatho, made their first appearance at the court on Thursday.

Their case has been postponed to the seventh of next month for trial.

The four allegedly stole money belonging to the Makgatho Community Property Association. The money was meant for boreholes and other agricultural resources. It was allegedly paid to Maphala’s wife’s company, but no services were delivered.

Spokesperson of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in Limpopo, Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi, says the matter has been postponed for lawyers to get the docket.

“The former African National Congress member of Parliament Moloko Stanfort Maila, Maphala Lazarus Mosena, Manase Steven Makgatho, Erick Makgatho appeared at the Polokwane Special Commercial Crimes Court earlier today.

The four accused are charged with counts of fraud, counts of money laundering and theft. The matter was postponed until 7th May 2021 for the state to provide the defense with a copy of the dockets and to set a trial date in the Limpopo High court Polokwane building,” adds Malabi-Dzhangi.

The four suspects were arrested last October, and are out on bail of R10 000 each.

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