Public Protector to investigate land claims complaint
Public Protector Adv Thuli Madonsela will urgently look into a complaint by a representative of a Cape Town community that government’s land claims process was unfair.
The complaint was one of many service delivery grievances that emerged during the Public Protector’s community outreach meeting with residents of Manenberg outside Cape Town on Tuesday.
Speaking during the meeting, Jane Mzongwana of Gugulethu township, complained that communities with land claims were not properly documented. They were also not consulted and educated on how the land claims process would unfold, thereby putting them at a disadvantage, she said.
She said some pensioners who had lodged claims on pieces of land in Kensington, Bellville, Parow and Goodwood outside the city, among other places, were still awaiting acknowledgement letters.
Other issues raised included allegations of corruption in housing allocation, illegal house extensions that infringed other people’s rights and poor enforcement of by-laws in relation to licensing of shebeens.
Senior citizens staying in old age homes complained about the payment of high boarding and lodging fees, raising concerns about paying value added tax when they had contributed during their working lives.
More complaints relating to a school that allegedly expelled learners who were unable to pay school fees, problems with social grants, enforcement of laws against crime and municipal services such water and lights.
Responding to the complaints, the Public Protector undertook to process the matters and revert the community timeously. “We will find out exactly what happened and if you were wronged, we’ll find a remedy,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Public Protector urged organs of state rendering essential services directly to communities to establish internal complaints handling mechanisms in order to respond adequately to the plight of dissatisfied citizens. She, however, stressed that the mechanisms needed to be competent and credible.
Speaking earlier at the same event, Executive Mayor of the City of Cape Town Patricia de Lille said the city had established an internal ombudsman and a call centre to handle service delivery complaints, encouraging locals to make use of such platforms.
Describing this development as “encouraging”, the Public Protector urged service delivery points such as public hospitals and water boards to follow the example of the city.
She commended the management of JF Jooste Hospital in Manenberg and the provincial health department for swiftly implementing the remedial action taken following an investigation into the disposal of medical waste. The probe came after a community member was pierced by a used syringe while walking in the area.
The meeting formed part of stakeholder consultative forums launched in July under the theme “The Public Protector Dialogues with the Nation.”
The forums are aimed at soliciting feedback regarding the work of the Public Protector and foster a common understanding of the institution’s mandate and role. They focus on the importance of implementing the Public Protector’s remedial action.
This is for purposes of ensuring administrative justice by organs of state in respect of service failure and ensuring accountability in the exercise of state power and control over public resources.
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