ANC councillor’s home burns after fibre fight


An act of arson in Geluksdal, Ekurhuleni, resulted in R2 million worth of damage to the home of ANC ward councillor Desmond Buitendacht.

According to a City Press report, the act is believed to have been sparked by the installation of fibre in the area. Buitendacht’s house was set alight in the early hours of Thursday, 21 October.

Buitendacht, who is running for re-election as councillor of Ekurhuleni’s ward 82, says he is not convinced the act was politically motivated.

“It’s within a political season, so it could have been politically motivated, but there’s also a contractor in the area with whom we don’t seem to agree,” he told City Press.

Buitendacht suggested that they held six community meetings to vote for whether fibre should be installed aerially or underground, and the majority of the community preferred trenched fibre. Despite this, the contractor said it will install aerial fibre.

The councillor believes the majority of community members disagree with the contractor’s decision to ignore the outcome of their vote.

“I suspect that the community doesn’t want it because it doesn’t look nice. It’s about the aesthetic value of the area,” he said

“Some residents are saying it will devalue their properties.”

He said that there is a perception that he is entirely against the fibre project, but Buitendacht says that it is not the case.

“I’m just standing up for the community, and the contractor wants to do what he wants,” he said.

A resident who spoke to City Press suggested that 65% of the poles required to install aerial fibre had already been erected, and suddenly the councillor decided he had a problem with the project.

The fibre project had provided 84 young people in the community with jobs.

“We went from door to door asking homeowners for permission to put up the poles, and they willingly agreed, but now they’re saying that people were forced,” one of the young people working for the contractor said.

“The councillor doesn’t want to see Geluksdal going forward. That’s why it’s so dull and dirty. Geluksdal isn’t moving forward.”

Another worker stated that the councillor has unjustly suggested that someone employed by the fibre installer, or the contractor himself, ignited the blaze at his house.

“There’s no evidence that it was our company or our boss who did that,” she said.

“If he wanted revenge, he wouldn’t have gone to the police to open a case.”

Buitendacht was granted bail early last week after his arrest for malicious damage to property. He allegedly took down some of the poles for the aerial fibre installation.

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