‘Inhumane’ to destroy illegal homes

2016-02-16 06:00

The video on SABC of the “official” destruction of the new shacks built on the edge of Masiphumelele was sickening. How inhumane to destroy new homes built by people desperate for a place to live.

Every society, every religious group, and each of us will be judged on the basis of our actions toward the most vulnerable.

Of course, the City of Cape Town has told the people not to build there. The City put responsibility for that “rule” on the Sanparks officials.

Now we learn that the “wetlands” may not, indeed, be true wetlands. And Sanparks officials say that a parcel of the land bought by the city in 2004 (12 years ago!) was expressly intended to provide land for homeless Masi families.

No wonder there is anger. Had the City been transparent, this problem could have been avoided. Not surprising that the current situation seems to be driven by political (perhaps racist?) considerations. It certainly appears that we are defending white privilege.

Councillor Felicity Purchase has stated that “the validity of these families” is in question. Who “validated” the families who settled in this community decades ago? Certainly no one validated my husband and me when we moved to Fish Hoek in 2001.

Finally, how can we pretend that there is no land available when we drive past the obscene new development at the bottom of Ou Kaapse Way, and when we read of the approval of a new development in Kommetjie?

Solveig Kjeseth, Fish Hoek

Subcouncil chairperson Felicity Purchase responds:

The City’s anti- land invasion unit demolished 24 shacks when they were re-erected in the wetland after warnings in December and again last week that they were illegal. The residents of Masi know that they are not allowed to erect shacks on council land and that we have an eviction order to remove shacks built illegally.

All shacks are numbered and, when they pop up without numbers, the residents are given notice to remove them or we do so. The validity of the structures refers to the numbering and records on our database.

Masiphumelele was developed to accommodate all the potential beneficiaries in the valley in the late ’90s. The urbanisation which has occurred with people voting with their feet and moving to the city, has caused a proliferation of shack farming, as development cannot keep abreast of the numbers.

The issue of a phantom piece of land that the City is hiding is ludicrous. I will explain again: when the City acquired the piece of land for, hopefully, housing, it was then the subject of various public participation processes. This was to facilitate the development of the said property. The ultimate record of decision in the environmental impact assessment process determined that the portion that could be developed, was the part today known as phase four, where the civil engineering work is beginning as we speak. This will include roads, sewerage, water and electrical provision to ultimately build duplexes.

Another portion was identified as being low lying and not for development but could be used as open space or sports fields. The third portion on the westerly boundary was turned down for development as it was environmentally sensitive and wetland. This document was public knowledge.

The Masi development framework has again raised the possibility of revisiting this portion of land. No responsibility is put on Sanparks. They would just be one of many commenting parties.

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