37 children homeless as govt razes down houses

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MMAMASHIA: Six homes at Mmamashia were razed to rubble on Friday, leaving 37 children and other family members homeless.

The residents of Mmamashia, a settlement along the A1 Road in Kgatleng, were left fumingg when the Kgatleng Landboard demolished six homes in the area on charges that they were squatters.

Of the six home owners accused of squatting, five are sons and daughters of an 84- year-old woman, Mma Bontsibokae. In an interview the old matriarch revealed that she was allocated this large piece of land as a ploughing field decades ago by then Bakgatla Kgosi Molefi. She added that the landboard which took over land allocation from chiefs, came recently and told her children who have built homes around the field, to vacate the land labeling them squatters.

"They told them that for you to have a mokgoro (house) you should have a ploughing field. Then I decided to split my field which is very big among my children so that they should not be evicted. But it seems my efforts were in vain," said the old woman.

One of her eldest children, Daniel Bontsibokae, a father of 10 children has had his two and a half house and a two bedroomed house razed down by the caterpillar. He told The Monitor that the structures cost him more than P100,000.

He also said that though they are accused of squatting, it is sad that the landboard that is delaying to allocate them land has decided to turn on them, destroying their property. "I have long applied to be allocated this land and to date they have not allocated me the land. We are simply being punished for the landboard's poor service.This is unfair," he said.

Four of his siblings have also met a similar fate, and had their houses demolished by the caterpillar, notoriously nicknamed 'the Yellow Monster', leaving them with 26 homeless children.

Another family - of Tsitsi Linchwe has been left homeless after they were forced to pack their property and transport it in haste in a donkey cart. Kgatleng Landboard public relations officer Dominique Shaba, who was also on site during the demolitions, told The Monitor that they have long told the six families to vacate the land as they were squatting. He said the land they were occupying is arable agriculture land and not residential, hence the only people who should stay there are supposed to have ploughing fields.

"When you are allocated a field (tshimo) you are also given a piece of land for 'mokgoro', but we realised that there were people without masimo here, that they were squatting and we gave them time to move out. The court order of last year ordered these six to move out and we communicated such to them. But they didn't, hence we came to evict them," he said.

Also at the demolition sites was Bokaa councillor, Gerald Bodika, whose ward includes Mmamashia. He faulted the Landboard for poor service, saying it takes too long to allocate land, saying that all the six who have been evicted had applied as long back as 1997. The councillor also said the demolitions of property for the poor is not in consonnance with President Ian Khama's government of "poverty eradication.

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