Pubdate: Fri, 28 May 2004
Source: Daily News, The (South Africa)
Copyright: 2004 The Daily News.
Author: Bongani Mthembu


Maria Park residents in Wentworth are planning legal action against the 
Engen Refinery and eThekwini Municipality, who want to build low cost 
housing in their community.

The homes are intended for the Rainbow Flats community, who, according to 
Maria Park citizens, are "notorious" for drugs and prostitution.

The Rainbow Flats community made headlines earlier this year when its 
residents told President Thabo Mbeki that their area was virtually under 
siege from criminals in the area who were terrorising them.

Mbeki was also told that substance abuse was rampant in the area and that 
men were pimping their young wives on the streets to survive.

The building of houses is a public-private partnership between Engen and 
the municipality. They will each spend R8 million on the project.

When Mbeki visited Went-worth he was appalled by the living conditions 
there and called for urgent intervention.

Maria Park residents complain that their area is to be used as a dumping 
site and they are worried about the kind of people that will be relocated 
there. They are also unhappy because the houses are to be built on a park.

Spokesman for Maria Park Residents' Association Gregory Goldstone told the 
Daily News that they did not allow drugs in their area.

He said the Rainbow Flats residents were known for running shebeens and drugs.

"This is our only well established park. It has indigenous trees and they 
play an important role in minimising harmful emissions from the plants like 
Engen and Sapref.

"What they are doing is totally undesirable. It will bring about unwanted 
social conditions and disturb a peaceful and stable neighbourhood. 
Properties will devalue with the construction of low cost houses in the 
middle of a well-established area and our children will no longer have any 
facilities," he said.

He said they were planning to get a court interdict to prevent the 
construction of the houses. "We want them to look elsewhere, not here. We 
know that the reason Engen is pushing ahead with their relocation is 
because their area falls within the 200-metre buffer zone approved for 
major hazardous installations," he said.

Engen's Wayne Hartmann said the relocation was done by the municipality and 
that they were just assisting with funds.

"They asked us to assist. We saw that it was a wonderful project to assist 
people who are living in bad conditions."

Procurement and Deputy Manager Derek Naidoo said that it was not true that 
they were going to destroy the park and that they would build low cost housing.

"The kind of houses we are going to build are much better than the normal 
low cost housing. They will be between R80 000 and R110 000. And we are not 
going to destroy the entire park," he added.
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