PLETTENERG BAY NEWS - The SA Human Rights Commission has taken a key role in keeping the peace in Plettenberg Bay after violent protests – which saw the destruction of infrastructure and large-scale losses – swept through the town earlier this month.
Last week the commission chaired a meeting between Qolweni residents and other stakeholders including Bitou municipal councillors and other high-ranking officials, the health department, police and community representatives, to forge a way forward.
Qolweni residents were at the forefront of the protest action as a result of various issues including disgruntlement around housing.
They also called for the removal of Ward 3 ANC councillor Xola Matyila.
Plettenberg Bay Business Chamber chair Mike Scholtz said that during the more than seven hour-long meeting on 15 July, it was agreed that Bitou municipal manager Lonwabo Ngoqo would supply to stakeholders a full breakdown of capital budgets, income received and projects completed and those still on the cards for two periods – 2011 to 2016, and 2016 to 2021.
"The intention is to make sure the budgets, income and expenditure align with the IDP document and to verify the facts in the document," Scholtz said.
"We hope to achieve the following: to expose any incorrectness, corruption (if any), make sure the funds were used for the correct items, and make sure the town received the correct value for the money spent. If any irregularities are exposed, they will be dealt with in the correct manner. Hopefully, this will allow the town to be correctly informed and settle the past and move on and not revisit these matters again."
He added that once everything has been tabled, it would be documented and signed by the agreed parties and monitored by all.
"The Human Rights Commission will be the go-to body whenever either section of interested parties feel agreed systems are not adhered to. I agreed that this will be the only way to deal with these issues in the future and that the town will all assist in keeping these sorts of agreements on track."
Scholtz said an up-to-date housing list for the Qolweni and Bossiesgif area would also be made available to the group. "This list can then be checked, especially by the affected community, and any irregularities that may occur – such as people on the list already owning houses, people not qualifying for a house etc. – will be investigated and all will be kept informed."
He said the municipality also agreed to prepare a plan for the transit camps that it will be implementing, and when ready, this plan would be made available to the group. The transit camps are for temporary housing for beneficiaries while their houses are being constructed.
A follow-up meeting has been scheduled for 30 July. "Hopefully, we will have all attended to the matters we took responsibility for and be able to come to a long-term agreement that will be managed in a manner to ensure there will never again be a repeat of such criminal acts," Scholtz said referring to the recent riots.
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