Fracas over housing

2015-08-25 14:52
Angry community members were barred from entering Mellon Housing Initiative’s Heideveld Site office as they delivered their proposals for the implementation of the project. 

Earl Haupt

Angry community members were barred from entering Mellon Housing Initiative’s Heideveld Site office as they delivered their proposals for the implementation of the project. PHOTO: Earl Haupt

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Agroup of angry Heideveld residents gathered outside Mellon Housing Initiative’s (MHI) site office alongside the N2 on Wednesday.

Scores of residents handed over their list of grievances.

MHI were awarded the tender to build the 738 houses intended for the Heideveld Housing Project. However, the Heideveld beneficiaries’ sub-contractors committee alleges not enough local labour has been employed in the MHI project, which they say amounts to corruption.

Pastor Isaac de Jongh, who was chosen to represent the community and is also a member on the Heideveld Housing Project’s steering committee, delivered their memorandum.

“We want feedback in 24 hours. Mrs Gouws (Director at MHI’s head office) can do it. She was quick to call me to say that there are five houses, but when I came here there weren’t any houses and I asked her, ‘but where are the houses’?” said de Jongh.

“So the corruption must stop. We are going to take them on up until the highest level because it is totally wrong. There aren’t any houses here and our people have to be considered,” he stated.

“I have power as a steering committee member, so when I get here (at the subcontractors site office), the gates need to open up for me, what is this about having locks on them?

“I am going to take that matter up with the City myself. But just remember, I am going to bring the entire steering committee here, it was the council’s duty to bring us here, but MHI knows that I am a steering committee member, so when I come here again, I am not looking for any locks on the gate,” exclaimed De Jongh.

He reiterated that the community were never given the chance to run their own housing project, even after the beneficiaries met in November 2014, a mere week before MHI were awarded the tender. Although a peaceful demonstration, De Jongh insinuated that matters could turn violent if their demands were not met.

“We don’t want to get violent, all we want is justice.”

De Jongh told People’s Post that Clifton Carolus, one of the project managers from the City of Cape Town responsible for overseeing the Heideveld Housing Project, made contact with him in response to their claims.

De Jongh said Carolus told him the area’s ward councilor Anthony Moses said choosing the correct venue to meet was an issue. De Jongh claims Moses has remained elusive and has not availed himself to meet with the community.

“Carolus contacted me and said our councillor said the venue is a problem, but I told him this is not true. The councillor doesn’t want to face me in the steering committee,” exclaimed De Jongh.

“I told Clifton (Carolus) that any councillor gets two freebies every month at the community centre for meetings without bookings.
“Secondly the office of our councillor is available and big enough for a meeting,” says De Jongh.

Heideveld has two community halls which are available for public meetings, the Cathkin Community Hall as well as the Heideveld Community Centre. De Jongh went further to say that he’ll even avail his local church or any school in the area if Moses has any issues relating to choosing a venue for them to meet to discuss the issue of the ratio of local labour implemented in the project.

“It’s crystal clear our councillor does not want to be part of a solution, knowing that this local employment and subcontractors issue is a huge problem.”
When contacted by the People’s Post recently, Moses shared that in order to avoid miscommunication with the community, all correspondence between the City and the community would distributed in the form of information leaflets and official newsletters.
Furthermore, he urged community members to follow official lines of communication instead of approaching the subcontractors directly.
Moses could not be reached for comment relating to the allegations levelled at MHI and the number of local labour they have employed.

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