Outside the Mamelodi East Magistrate building. Construction began in 2015. Picture: Gontse Sello
An unfinished multimillion-rand court in Mamelodi East remains a sore sight for local residents. Construction on the building started in 2015, five years after the original start date. It was expected to open within a year, but seven years later it remains incomplete with no sign of progress.
Oupa Mtshweni, a chairperson of the Concerned Community Service Delivery in Mamelodi, said he attended an Imbizo in 2008, where the announcement of the new court was made.
“There was hope for job creation and a better courthouse with improved facilities.”
Mtshweni who also added that they were told that the new building would cost around 94.7 million. Although the reasons behind the abrupt halt of the construction are unknown, Mtshweni suspects that money was misappropriated.
“Chelete e jelwe (money has been stolen) and people need to be held accountable. We don’t know what happened to Fikile Construction, but the Department of Public Works knows,” said Mtshweni.
Advocate Ndereze Nyathi, who works at the Magistrate Court in Mamelodi West, says there is not enough space to accommodate all the workers and meet the needs of the community. “We are working from mobile containers. As you can see, it is not a conducive environment for a fully functional court,” said Nyathi.
He said the new building for the Magistrate Court in Mamelodi East would have provided relief to the workers and for the community.
“Previously this was known as Gauteng North District and only operated on Wednesdays. Now, we are proclaimed a fully functional court, and we have files from both Pretoria North and Cullinan. Storage for files is one of the issues we have,” said Nyathi.
Nyathi said despite the delays in the completing the new court building, it has not affected their commitment to serving the community. “Our responsibility is to serve our communities, and we continue to uphold our responsibility towards the residents of Mamelodi.” said Nyathi.
Meanwhile, at the construction site, although there is no progress on the building, there are security guards posted to protect the building site.
Samson Thwala, Willard Chitongo and Jappie Mareletse are the three men looking after the building. These men contradict the community's belief that the contractor has fled with the money, leaving them jobless.
“We are employed by Fikile Construction to look after the place,” said Thwala.
He said vandalism and theft by nyaope addicts was an issue “there have been a lot of attempts to steal from the site by nyaope addicts who are always lurking around the building. We had to increase security at night."
Chitongo believes that the ongoing protests by community members and the employees have delayed the completion of the project.
“I blame the members of the community. When the construction started, a lot of community members with no skills were hired. They started protests, because they felt that they were not paid enough, and they deserved more. But they did not have the skills.”
Despite several attempts from Fray News, Fikile Construction, could not be reached for a comment.