Refuse to go to Delft

2018-01-18 06:00
Residents rebuild shacks as the City refused to help them with the starter packs. PHOTO: Unathi Obose

Residents rebuild shacks as the City refused to help them with the starter packs. PHOTO: Unathi Obose

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Victims of the fire that ravaged their shacks in Langa last Monday 8 January, claim that the City had still not assisted them with the so-called “starter packs” building material normally accorded others during such tragedies.

On Tuesday, City Vision spoke to Ward 52 Councillor Samkelo John, who confirmed that the Joe Slovo fire victims had still not been helped by the City.

The fire razed about 98 shacks, leaving more than 160 people without a shelter.

Only one person died in the tragedy, but to great loss of property and belongings.

However, it seems the City is withholding assistance deliberately, as the residents of the affected area are in line for relocation to Delft.

Department of Human Settlement spokesperson Ntomboxolo Makoba-Somdaka said the development of Joe Slovo informal settlements forms part of the N2 Gateway project managed by all three spheres of government(Local, Provincial and National).

She added that the Joe Slovo precinct is behind schedule as it is an in-situ type of development, which means that the developer needs to relocate informal structures before development takes place, and there had been delays caused by the community’s resistance to relocate to the Delft temporal relocation areas(TRAs).

After last week’s fire, the City managed to relocate about 57 fire victims to the TRA’s in Delft, however, others refused to move, opting to rebuild their shacks in Joe Slovo.

Desperate residents said they have given up and don’t think if they will ever get the material. Councillor Samnkelo John also said the land that Joe Slovo is built on belongs to the province.

“The City(has) said it cannot provide the building material because the land that Joe Slovo is on belongs to the Department of Human Settlements.

It is the department that can provide the material through its Human Development Agency (HDA),” he said.

John said he understands the residents’ anger, because they want to go back to their houses. “The reason the City is relocating people to Delft is because they want to develop the area.

And the City is still in talks with the province to speed up the process,” he said.

John, however, emphasised that they are still waiting for other organizations to come on board and assist the victims.

“We are still waiting for South African Security Social Agency to come and give children school uniform,” he added.

But the affected residents would have none of that.

Bobby Matshona said: “It is clear that the City doesn’t care about us. It’s almost two weeks(that) the fire happened, but still we are waiting for material. I doubt if we will get it. They (City) gave us mattresses and blankets only.

Explaining why they refused to move to Delft, Matshona said he is employed in the N2 Gateway project in the area.

“I’m working here in the building of Joe Slovo. I can’t go to Delft because that will cost me a lot,” he said, adding that he had been staying in Joe Slovo since 1999.

Another resident, Siphokazi Renqwa, who runs a Spaza shop in the area said they were still in the dark regarding their future.

“I’ve lost everything, including the stock that was in the shop.

I’m only left with the car which was outside when the fire started,” said Renqwa. The distraught mother said she is struggling even to transfer money for transport to her child in Eastern Cape to come back.

“We are appealing to government to assist us. We are suffering. My material is not enough to rebuild my shack. I’m staying with my neighbours now,” said Renqwa.

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