Displaced church pitches tent on field used for sport training

Salome Mokgothu, Phaswane Magabe, Dijeng Chapole, Sinah Rakoms, Mantadi Magabe, Batsile Kotsie, Moeketsi Magabe, Bongani Radabe, Chief Ramipone and Maki Jiyane celebrate after Isaac Bangilizwe, Customer Relations Manger at Duduza CCC, assured them that the tent erected next to Thakgane Primary School, where their children train for softball, will be moved.

Duduza – The tent was taken down on Saturday, but the usage rights for the field are still in question.

Salome Mokgothu, who lives close to the school, says she became suspicious when she saw some people tending the grass on the open field a few days ago.

Little did she know the people were preparing the ground for the tent.

“I am concerned because that is where the children train because they do not have a sports ground inside the school.

“This structure is right in the middle of the field.”

Principal of Thakgalang Primary School Mahli Nhlapho says they approached the pastor of the church.

“The church gave us a letter that grants them permission to use the space in question.”

Isaac Bangilizwe, the customer relations manager at Duduza CCC, confirmed the land has been zoned for educational purposes.

He says the letter of permission written to the church was unlawful.

However, the school has not been granted sole usage rights for the piece of land. Oupa Bodibe, acting spokesperson for the Gauteng Department of Education, explains, “The vacant stand next to the school does not necessarily belong to the department and it is used by our learners

and the community around it to practise baseball and hold tournaments.

“The department will continue to monitor the situation.”

However, ward councillor Thabo Motaung says he granted the church permission to use the grounds as a temporary solution, until they find they find a suitable space.

“The church was previously renting at one of the shops in Duduza, but they were experiencing a few problems there with the landlord, and some ‘nyaope boys’ who hang around. It was no longer safe for them to be there.”

Pastor Vusi Hlatshwayo explains his congregation has requested the metro’s help in finding a suitable venue for many years.

“We have rented a few venues around Duduza while we were waiting for the municipality to find some land we can use.”

Hlatshwayo alleges some of the community members have vandalised cars and property belonging to the members of the congregation.

Themba Gadebe, spokesperson for Ekurhuleni Municipality, says their office engaged the councillor concerned and indicated the granting of such permission by himself is in

breach of Council policy, as only the Council is authorised to grant such permission – or permission for temporary use of Council land can only be granted in terms of the relevant delegated powers.

“The pastor of the church was informed about the relevant Council policies and was also advised about the current process by the Council to assist churches in bidding for available properties for church purposes in Ekurhuleni,” says Gadebe.

Xoliswa Kali

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