The ANC has slammed a one month suspension handed down by the City of Cape Town this week to a DA councillor who was behind South Africa’s biggest ever home invasion.
A City of Cape Town disciplinary committee on Tuesday slapped DA councillor Frank Martin with a one month suspension for his role in the illegal invasion of 1,700 two bedroom homes in December 2007. The homes, which were still under construction, were invaded after Martin issued letters to residents of Delft saying they could occupy the houses.
The homes were part of the government’s flagship N2 Gateway Housing Project and the invasion led to a tense standoff between the occupants and the stated beneficiaries of the houses. Eventually the home invaders were evicted. Some of them still live in shacks on the side of the road near the houses.
The ANC slammed Martin’s suspension in a press statement issued last Thursday, saying his actions had resulted in costs estimated at R40-million and describing the committee decision as “cynical and horrendously inappropriate”.
“The City’s explanation for its cynicism – that Martin was under pressure at the time, and repeating his lie that allocations were unfair – stops just short of saying he was correct,” said the statement.
The ANC called on the police to arrest Martin, for prosecutors to pursue the case properly, for the City to dismiss Martin as a councillor and for the DA to expel him.
But disciplinary committee chairperson councilor Anthea Serritslev hit back at the ANC, accusing the party of “going all out to make a political election statement”.
Serritslev said although the committee had not approved of the way Martin had handled the situation he had not done it for political gain, but rather for his community.
In its decision, the committee cited a series of mitigating circumstances. These included the “extreme pressure” Martin had faced from his community, the allocation process for the houses being perceived as “patently unfair” and that he had tried to resolve the situation without success.
National Director-General of Housing Itumeleng Kotsoane said in a statement his department would pursue legal processes because Martin “must account for his actions in a court of law”.
“His sentence does not match his crime, in human or financial terms,” he said.
He said Martin had deliberately undermined the legitimacy of the State and transgressed state processes applicable to all spheres of government, particularly in relation to housing allocations.
Martin could not be reached for comment.