Fed-up residents of Bezuidenhout Valley in east Johannesburg have put up a sign “Welcome to Pigz Valley (nice hey?)” on a plot of land owned by the nearby Athlone Boys High School that is an eye sore with illegal businesses and squatters (see a photo here).
Earlier this week I visited this large stand with local DA Councillor Carlos da Rocha.
We saw an illegal driving school, a failed urban farm, overgrown bushes, dumped rubble, and a squatter settlement.
I was told that a local squatter gets money from businesses that illegally dump rubble on the property.
After Clr da Rocha wrote to Education MEC in August last year, the department did an internal investigation on the issues he raised. This is according to an official reply by the Gauteng Education Department to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.
They say the school has hired out the stand to three private businesses, including the driving school and a creche, and In the last two years, the unused portion of the land was illegally occupied by squatters.
The district has advised the school to:
• Put in place measures to manage and maintain the land; and ensure compliance with the applicable legislative frameworks and municipal bylaws in all contracts entered into on behalf of the school.
• Over and above this, the Department will assist the school by requesting the State Attorney for an eviction order. It should be noted that the eviction process is a time-consuming process.
This is not good enough. It is appalling that the school’s governing body has turned a blind eye to illegal activities on this land for so long.
Residents are justifiably aggrieved by this unsightly property (see photos here and here).
We also met with the school’s acting principal Mr Shumani Singo to express our concern in this matter.
I will be following up with the Education Department to ensure that all illegal activities cease on this property and that it is cleaned up and used for a better purpose.