Several businesses in Alberton North, a suburb of Ekurhuleni, South Africa, have been struggling due to illegal settlers and poor infrastructure in the area. Despite paying high rates and taxes, these businesses claim they are not receiving adequate service or government assistance.
One such business is General Hinges and Aluminium Frames, which is based in Union Street as reported by the Alberton Record. The company has been in operation since 1974 and has spent thousands of Rands on improving security at their factory to protect machinery and staff. However, they claim they are still facing a relentless situation due to illegal settlers from the nearby Alberton North informal settlement.
Along with other businesses in the street, the company has reportedly been subjected to foul play by residents of the informal settlement, who are blocking stormwater drains, filling them with refuse and concrete mixes. As a result, water is not readily available and often unsafe for consumption, forcing businesses to erect water tanks and filter their water.
Despite complaining to the council for over 20 years about the problem of the Alberton North squatters, the business’s grievances have fallen on deaf ears. Darren Wade, co-owner of General Hinges and Aluminium Frames, called for the City of Ekurhuleni to move the dwellers to a proper area.
The illegal settlers cause infrastructure issues and bring a criminal element into the street. Several businesses in Union Street have experienced burglaries, and there have been reports of drug dealing and other criminal activity.
Wade said this affects their manufacturing because they spend large amounts of capital on safety and security, which they should not have to. According to him, due to the failing infrastructure and all the theft, they had to buy generators out of their own pockets. Every business in the street has had its power stolen, with thieves cutting open the boxes and stealing the electrical wiring and fuses.
Captain Manare Ramotshela of the Alberton SAPS confirmed that residents from the informal settlements commit most petty crimes in the area, as they can easily return to their homes. However, he did not recall any serious crimes in the informal settlement.
According to the City of Ekurhuleni’s spokesperson, Zweli Dlamini, the land where the informal settlement is located is owned by the Passenger Rail of South Africa (PRASA). However, the department cannot commit to the relocation of the occupants because the matter is before the court for the finalization of a court or eviction order. The city is engaging in sessions with PRASA and the councillor to address the issues and concerns, and plans are in place to relocate the occupants once the issues are addressed. However, some families relocated to Thinasonke in Tokoza as part of the plan have returned to the settlement, and the PRASA left it without being safeguarded, allowing further illegal occupation.
In summary, several Alberton North businesses are struggling due to illegal settlers and poor infrastructure. Despite their complaints, the authorities have not taken any significant action, leading to increased crime and significant financial losses for the affected businesses.
Photo: Facebook / @South African Police Service