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Tshwane opposition parties criticise penalties for gated communities

Opposition parties in the Tshwane Metro Council have criticised the ANC's decision to submit a motion calling for the introduction of penalties for illegal road closures and access restrictions to suburbs.

Both the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) and the DA said gated communities "are shared by both white and black residents of Tshwane".

The motion by ANC councillor Daniel Mampuru called on the municipality "to develop an effective monitoring system with prescribed penalties for non-compliance on illegal road closures and access restrictions".

According to the motion, "the Local Government Ordinance (No 17 of 1939) and the National Road Traffic Act (Act 93 of 1996), make the creation of enclosed neighbourhoods illegal".

"The acts oblige local authorities to keep public roads open, and make it an offence for any person to erect barricades or blockades on public roads.

"Most of the efforts to gate off communities throughout the country are illegal in terms of these two pieces of legislation," said Mampuru.

ACDP councillor Anne-Marie Sparg, said: "Many of the black residents (who are part of gated communities) belong to the ANC and occupy government positions.

"Safety is their concern because the government is not providing adequate safety measures.

"The ANC is using, rather twisting, the real reasons for gated communities and turning them into a racial issue," Sparg added.

She said according to the constitution it was the government's duty to protect its citizens, but the government was failing dismally.

According to Sparg, the residents are trying to protect themselves from the unacceptably high number of crime incidents that happen daily in the country, especially in Pretoria.

"Residents, black and white, are not safe in their homes. Crime does not know colour. Many have been killed in their private bedrooms.

"The ANC must realise that it will sit with blood on its hands if it continues to look through its 'struggle' glasses and not address the safety issues," said Sparg.

She said the ACDP was aware of the fact that some residents had erected illegal boom gates and thus called on them to obey the law and go through the legal processes by applying to the council for such permits to be granted.

"The ACDP also calls on the residents of Tshwane to refrain from illegal activities. While some government officials are corrupt, our citizens must work together towards a just society, unhindered by corruption and lawlessness.

"It is only a matter of time before all illegal activities will be exposed," said Sparg.

DA councillor Christa Spoelstra said they were against illegal actions by the public, "but is supportive of initiatives that comply with the law".

"Legally gated communities are a response to the high crime rate and the lack of proper safety and security measures.

"Their aim is to protect lives and property regardless of race or creed," said Spoelstra.

She said one of the ground rules of an application was that no one should be denied access to any of the restricted areas.

"Freedom of movement is thus not affected.

"It is a myth that only rich people apply for gated arrangements.

"Residents across the racial spectrum benefit from restricted areas and support the applications."

Spoelstra said due to the fact that the municipality took so long to lift the moratorium on applications for gated communities following a Pretoria High Court order last year and the high crime rate, some communities took the illegal route to close the streets in certain areas.

According to Spoelstra, the city planning committee asked for a report on January 20 on the situation regarding the restriction of access within the municipality.

"Our constitution states that it is our right as South African citizens to protect ourselves, our country and our homes.

"The SAPS is also in support of these closures, because they strengthen its hand in the fight against crime," said Spoelstra.