‘Housing has us in the dark’

2015-09-15 06:00
Heideveld community leader Isaac de Jongh stands at the site where the first foundations of the 738 houses promised to the community are being laid.

Earl haupt

Heideveld community leader Isaac de Jongh stands at the site where the first foundations of the 738 houses promised to the community are being laid. PHOTO: Earl haupt

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Beneficiaries of the Heideveld housing project are still in the dark regarding the progress of their proposed in-fill housing.

According to correspondence by Clifton Carolus, the City of Cape Town’s project manager, the first batch of 30 houses in the area where a total of 738 are to be built, should be completed by Mellon Housing Initiatives (MHI) by the end of October.

In the latest newsletter from Carolus, a screening process was scheduled for last weekend, but the meeting did not take place.

Residents point to bad relations between councillor Anthony Moses and community members, amongst others Isaac de Jongh, who is one of the community’s representatives on the project’s steering committee.

Despite the councillor’s presence at the screening meeting, community members left with more questions than answers.

Community members, as well as beneficiaries of the project, then gathered outside MHI’s site office later last week after allegedly receiving no further information from Moses.

They were met by the City’s law enforcement officials, who peacefully guided the small crowd of about 40 people to the adjoining field.

Harold Petersen, who has lived in the area for 37 years, says he wants to see greater interaction between Moses and the community. He believes these gatherings would not take place if Moses met with the community in person. The newsletters leave room for misinterpretation, he says.

“He should have consulted the people beforehand and should have had meetings with them in order for them to air their views and grievances, but he never did that,” says Petersen.
Petersen says community members want more clarification to smooth any differences they may have with the ongoing project. He points out the project should be the community’s to deal with alone and that construction work should be halted should the proper procedures not be followed.

“If the work is done by outsiders, then it would be a major disaster for the local community, because it is their project, it is their baby. They must have a big say. We feel that this housing project and construction work should be halted at the moment, even if it means it delays when people move into their houses, so that the community can be informed about the right way of doing things and then there should be no irregularities in selecting people from the community to do the work.”

Meanwhile, Heideveld resident and housing beneficiary Leila Ahmed wants the houses to be built.

“They must just get done. They get paid a salary every month, but why are they not getting the job done? We were happy to be together and to be going through this, because we are learning a lot, but to think that people are getting paid to do the job and they are not doing any work . . . If they get their act together, then everything will fall into place.

“We haven’t got our houses, we want all our houses finished and we don’t want to wait anymore.”
Ahmed says she and her family have had to compromise their lifestyles to be in a position to participate in the housing project and not merely wait on houses to be handed out. She praises De Jongh for his efforts in mobilising the community.
“All the pastor is doing is getting ideas and putting things together to see how we can make things better,” she says.

Vanessa Adriaanse, another housing beneficiary, says she has had a few run-ins with Moses and alleges the councillor uses divisive tactics to keep the community misinformed.

“Our councillor is dividing our community. The last four years that he has been councillor, he has never kept a public meeting. We were never involved in any of the decisions being made in our place. For the first time, houses are being built in Heideveld and again we are being excluded.”
People’s Post contacted Moses, but he declined to comment at the time.

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