20090804

Impoverished Afrikaners denied housing rights in Wolmer, Pretoria North

 

Vote of no-confidence by impoverished Wolmer residents forces out Democratic Alliance and African National Congress councillors

The Freedom Front Plus issued a press release on August 4 2009 describing a small revolt in the suburb of Wolmer, an impoverished suburb in Pretoria on July 27 2009 during which the Democratic Alliance and African National Congress councillors received votes of no confidence and were forced to leave a community meeting.

The issue of the meeting centered around the housing problems of the impoverished white residents. The Freedom Front Plus statement noted that ‘the ANC city councillors do not have any problem with writing off the bad debt of black residents or to transfer rental houses to them. When the poor white residents of Wolmer asked for the same treatment, there were all kinds of objections from the city council.”

Wolmer Pretoria poor white community throws out ANC and DA councillors Picture: Dr. Conrad Beyers, speaking here, stands next to pastor Lourens Taljaard who was appointed the new chairman of the Wolmer Residents’ Association.  Walmer resident and 'iron lady' Mrs. Jenny Jacobs drove the issue home - forcing the DA- and ANC-councillors to leave the meeting altogether.
The residents also adopted a vote of no confidence in the ANC and DA councillors - and asked that the Freedom Front Plus’ city councillors should handle their case from now on.

The Wolmer community in Pretoria North, also asked the FF Plus to from now on become ‘the standard bearer for the community’s rights with regards to the transferring of property rights of their homes, as well as managing donations.”

The Wolmer community’s initiative was lead by residents themselves, under the firebrand-leadership of Mrs. Jenny Jacobs, as well as by community leader Pastor Lourens Taljaard, a prominent person in the community.

At a mass meeting of the Wolmer community on Monday 27 July, a motion of no confidence was accepted against the current resident’s committee – which according to the residents, ‘had been hijacked by the ANC and the DA”. A new residents’ committee was voted in with Pastor Taljaard as the chairman. The motion was accepted despite a huge effort by the DA to interfere in the meeting’s harmony.

Said Freedom Front Plus spokesman Dr Conrad Beyers: “The community is frustrated with the ANC and DA who have for more than 5 years been making promises with regards to the transferring of their municipal rental homes without any progress being made. There are also numerous complaints from the community that donations such as food, clothes and blankets which were previously handled by the previous committee, did not reach the community. For these purposes a new welfare committee was established.”

Mr. Jaco Mulder, FF Plus leader in Gauteng, Dr. Conrad Beyers and Dr. Rentia Landman, both FF Plus councillors as well as Mr. Vorster Gauche, the local FF Plus branch chairperson, all represented the FF Plus at the meeting.

Moratorium on forced evictions of Afrikaner residents demanded:

Afrikaner Poverty in Wolmer Pretoria - housing project by Solidarity trade union helping hand charity April 2009 Picture: Solidarity trade union movement ‘s Helping Hand charity has been helping impoverished Afrikaners build small shacks in the Wolmer suburb, where impoverished Afrikaners have been housed for the past fifty years by municipal housing authorities. Now they are facing forced evictions from the the ANC-town council.

Moratorium on forced evictions of poor Afrikaners demanded:

Although the Wolmer meeting on July 29 wasn’t organised as ‘a FF Plus meeting” , the FF Plus was requested unanimously by the hundreds of residents present there, to demand that the city council places a moratorium on the threatened evictions of the impoverished white residents in Wolmer until the promised transfers have been completed. The FF Plus was also requested to possibly fight this issue on behalf of the community in the Equality Court and other courts if the transfer of ownership is not completed within the current financial year.

“Many residents in the poor white community in Wolmer have received threatening letters from the Tshwane Metro Council in which it is stated that they will be evicted from municipal rental homes as a result of overdue debts. In the past 6 years the overdue debt of thousands of poor black families in Townships of Gauteng were written off and ownership of municipal rental homes were transferred to residents as part of the so-called Retro project.
The Wolmer community say they are entitled to the same advantages as the communities in black townships,” said Beyers.

Long-time Afrikaner residents constantly threatened with forced evictions:

Since 2007, the Wolmer community has been harassed, with the impoverished white residents constantly being threatened with eviction from their city council rental homes. The municipal rental houses are mainly occupied by poor white families. In June 2007 the ANC threatened to evict these people from their homes and to transfer these houses to “previously disadvantaged” (i.e. black) people – although the Afrikaner residents all were very poor and had no other alternative housing to flee to.

  • Discrimination against poor Afrikaners only because they are white:
  • Public opposition, lead by the FF Plus, ensued which forced the ANC to let go of the plan. Since 2007 the FF Plus has been involved in a struggle to convince the Metro Council to transfer ownership of the Wolmer homes to these long-time Afrikaner residents. The FF Plus’ argument has consistently been that such transfers of municipal and state housing on a large scale have been done in poor communities and townships, but that this poor community is being discriminated against on the grounds of race. In the Townships the transfers were done after overdue debt had been written off.

In May 2009, the mayoress of the Pretoria Metro Council, Dr. Gwen Ramakgopa, announced that “the transfer of ownership of municipal homes, including Pretoria North, will be finalized.”

  • The FF Plus welcomed the announcement with the precondition that the transfers have to be finalized by the end of the current financial year. However, ever since the Mayor’s announcement, the Wolmer area’s Afrikaans-speaking community is still in the dark about the future of their homes – and now have started receiving threatening letters about evictions.

The community is concerned that the Metro Council wants to evict them from their homes and that the houses will be given to new “pro-ANC” residents. http://www.vryheidsfrontplus.co.za

Solidarity Trade Union’s Helping Hand Charity ‘s help to empoverished Afrikaner communities in SA:

Lax security a piracy threat for harbours - warning

 

Swart Johan maritime lawyer Stepstone & Wylie za warns of lax security piracy problems SA harbours Aug 2009 Shepstone and Wylie maritime lawyer Johan Swart, left, recently warned at the annual general meeting of the Maritime Law Association of SA  that the country’s lax security “was a grave concern because of the threat posed to maritime safety by Somali piracy. “

Swart is an expert on international maritime safety along the African coasts  – having spent some 20 years with the state-owned Safmarine Shipping Group as in-house counsel and risk manager, leaving that group in 1998 as its Group Risk Executive. He opened Shepstone and Wylie lawyers’ Cape Town office with James Mackenzie in November 1998, where he continues to be involved in risk management as well as general marine, aviation and ship finance, commercial and a wide ranging general practice.

Mr Swart confirmed to me in an email that he spoke about the Somali piracy maritime safety issue at a Cape Town (Port) conference earlier this year on behalf of a partner from Durban who had to cancel at the last minute. He then was asked to repeat it at the Maritime Law Association's annual general meeting at Pumula on the KZN South Coast in June 2009. His presentation dealt with the fact that the Somali region had no effective government at the moment. He also said he spoke to a video/photo clip presentation prepared by Capt Roy Martin of Durban. He also pointed out  there have not been any piracy problems in South African coastal waters thus far.

West-coast harbours benefiting from increased traffic due to piracy

African Harbour Map Meanwhile, due to the high threat level from a mere 1,000 Somalian pirates targetting slower cargo ships passing through the Suez port and canal passing the very long Somalian coastline, most Southern African harbours also are showing increased growth in cargo handling – with more shipping owners now routinely diverting their valuable cargo and luxury passenger cruise ships around the Cape of Good Hope.

Due to this handful of Somalian pirates, ninety percent of the World Food Programme's shipments now require military escorts.[3]

According to Kenya’s foreign minister, these Somali pirates – which number only about 1,000 Puntland residents split into 5 gangs -- earn huge incomes, receiving some US$150-million during the 12 months prior to November 2008[4].  They show no sign of wanting to rebuild their war-ravaged country with this cash, however.

The East African Seafarers' Association .[43] cites a BBC report claiming that there are three main categories of these pirates: local Somali fishermen --  considered the brains of the pirates' operations due to their skill and knowledge of the sea; Ex-militiamen who used to fight for the local clan warlords; and technical experts who operate equipment such as the GPS devices.[19]

However, the most obvious beneficiary of the increased traffic around the Cape of Good Hope,  Cape Town harbour,  is not catching this extra traffic at the moment. It is still busy dredging out its shallow four berths to a new 15,5m depth to accommodate the larger, new generation vessels rounding the Cape of Good Hope.

The depth at Cape Town harbour’s entrance channel is -15.9m and -15.4m at the 180m wide entrance into Duncan Dock. It is -14m at the entrance to Ben Schoeman Dock (the container terminal). The depth in the Duncan Dock varies between -9.9m near the repair quay to -12.4m at the tanker basin. Ben Schoeman Dock varied from -9m to -13.9m but this container terminal has now been dredged to a depth of -15,5.

The main beneficiaries of this current surge in cargo traffic along the west coast are Saldanha Bay in South Africa, and Walvis Bay harbour in Namibia, reports Business Day newspaper in South Africa.

The African west coast’s Walvis Bay Corridor traffic has been growing a whopping 63% year-on-year. Walvis Bay is the only natural deep-sea harbour along the entire west-African coastline (new Coega/Ngqura  is the east coast’s deepsea harbour). It’s growth is due not only to the increase in piracy however. It has also worked very hard to place itself on the international shipping map.

Walvis Bay Namibia port ISO certification displayed by proud workersPicture: Walvis Bay became one of the first ports in Africa to be certified under the highly acclaimed International Standards Organization (ISO) 9001 (2000) & Occupational Health & Safety Assessment Series (OSHAS) 18001 (1999) standards. And it’s bought new mobile cranes to increase its handling-speeds.

For many decades, Walvis Bay already was popular for the west-coast’s fishing fleet needing long-term deep-harbour mooring and refurbishing, due to the low oceanic parasite population in this natural  deepsea harbour. However Walvis Bay is now also very actively promoting itself as an effective alternative trade route for southern Africa.

Moreover, it also services the many deep-sea oil rigs dotted  along the west-african coastline for the Southern African Development Community region countries   - boosting the competitiveness of the Namibian economy. Click here for Walvis Bay Port Authority

The planned new Walvis Bay container terminal, due for commissioning in 2012, will be equipped with R450m worth of new container handling equipment . Namibian Port Authorities said Walvis Bay would secure a new R1,7bn container terminal to be built on a man-made island facing the present terminal and connected with the mainland by a causeway.

Just south of Walvis, the military/civilian harbour of Saldanha Bay in neighbouring South Africa also saw a sizeable increase in month-on-month cargo handling during June, with the facility handling 5,445mt (May 2009: 4,323mt), according to the latest National Ports Authority statistics.

Along the east coast of South Africa, Port Elizabeth harbour also showed a considerable increase in the number of containers and the cargo tonnage handled in the port during June mainly from Far-Eastern trading routes which do not have to travel through Suez. Port Elizabeth handled 874,000 tons of cargo (May 2009: 520,000 tons) and 33,561 TEUs (22,235 TEUs).

Free-trade zone harbour at Coega/Ngqura

Coego Ngqura deepwater cargo harbour 20km east of Port Elizabeth The country’s other deepwater port, the new Coega/Ngqura harbour 20km from Port Elizabeth, meanwhile is going to be run as the only ‘free trade zone port,’ according to CEO Solly Letsoalo.

He said the government had made this deciison based on international research by consultancy group Flynn Consulting identifying the need for a hub port and \coega/Ngqura being the most suitable location nationally. Letsoalo said ‘this outcome highlighted the importance of free trade zones’. Currently SA’s industrial development zones are’ customs secure ‘ rather than duty-free areas.

East London harbour also showed a slight increase in the amount of tonnage handled through its facilities in June — 173,000 tons against the 171,000 tons in May — but the number of containers dipped to 2,360 TEUs (May: 2,654 TEUs), National Port Authority statistics reflect.

Durban ’s Transnet Port Terminals chief of strategy, security, safety, health, environment and quality Mervin Chetty has been appointed as the Transnet’s Natal provincial transport corridor general manager – and will thus be the central contact point for customers using Transnet’s transportation services linking this port with inland-Gauteng. Chetty’s boss is newly- appointed group executive freight corridors Mark Gregg-Macdonald.

Richards Bay exported more coal to Far East in June

The dedicated coal-export harbour Richards Bay handed 6 mt in June, up from 4,99mt of coal-cargo in May -- out of SA’s national export total of 19,73mt. Most of South Africa’s unprocessed coal is exported to Japan and China – but the country also manufactures its own coal-to-synthetic fuel at its cracking facilities in Sasolburg.

Maputo harbour channel with a passenger cruise liner in tow April 2009 In neighbouring Mozambique just north of Durban, Maputo harbour has been boosted by the launch of a new weekly service linking it to the Far East by Maersk and Safmarine. 

Harbour spokesman Ivor Masher says the service will call on a Sunday and depart on a Wednesday, offering a 15-day transit. Maerks says the westbound service will give access to the Indian Ocean Islands through Port Louis, Mauritius, Toamasina, Madagascar, and landlocked African countries through Maputo. Again, the Suez Canal is being bypassed completely .

And an international consortium led by New Limpopo Bridge Project Investments, together with South African state-owned Spoornet and Mozambiue’s state-owned CFM railway,  also signed a 15-year concession agreement to ‘privatise’ the railway from the South African border through to the ports of Maputo and Matola, with the new Ressano Garcia Railway Company investing some US$10 million to rehabilitate the old Portuguese-colonial era railway line, modernising and improving it to the same standard as the South African network and providing a seamless rail link along the Maputo Corridor.  The company has projected that freight traffic will increase from 2.9m tonne per annum to more than 6.8m.

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sources:

  • Johan Swart, maritime lawyer Stepstone & Wylie law firm:
  • Tel: +27 (0)21 4196495
    Fax: +27 (0)21 4181974
    Cell: +27 (0)82 333 3555
    Email: swart@wylie.co.za

Maritime shipping in turmoil:

Flynn Consulting and Coega harbour issue: