Many still living in hall

2016-01-26 06:00

Following a fire in Masiphumelele in November, more than 250 residents have been housed in the community hall. But while they wait for a place to rebuild their homes and lives they now fear an outbreak of disease.

An additional 350 to 400 people have sought accommodation with relatives or on land close to Masiphumelele, community members estimate.

At a recent subcouncil meeting, chairperson Felicity Purchase confirmed the residents had been housed in the hall following the illegal construction of homes on land cleared after the fire.

The land had been cleared and marked out with additional access routes and stands. However, some residents built informal homes larger than the space allocated or moved in during a land grab, leaving others without space to build their homes.

Bongagni Babiso, representing the community members at the hall, says the conditions are challenging, with children and the elderly sleeping on the floor.

“We have nothing. People are sick and it’s spreading,” he says.

‘Humanly unbearable’The hall offers poor facilities for the community members, Dr Lutz van Dijk of the Hokisa Children’s Home believes, as there is only one toilet, no shower, kitchen facilities or privacy and residents are sleeping on mattresses on the floor.

“The situation becomes not only humanly unbearable, but carries a high risk of an outbreak of communal diseases for the whole community,” Van Dijk says.

The first symptoms of illness have already been recognised, he adds.

City of Cape Town planners are considering various options to see how the residents can be accommodated, says Benedicta van Minnen, mayoral committee member for human settlements.

When ready, the proposed layout will be discussed with Masiphumelele’s leadership and the affected residents to ensure that the resettlement of these households take place in an organised manner, she says.

“The City is aware that it has been a challenging time for residents of Masiphumelele since the fire occurred. We, together with supporting organisations, have been doing everything in our power to expedite efforts to ensure that residents can start to rebuild their lives.”

A recent assessment found that up to 82 residents were being accommodated in the Masiphumelele community hall and are receiving humanitarian relief, including food. They also have access to water and sanitation.

The City provides services to the facility such as cleaning, refuse removal and also attends to maintenance concerns, Van Minnen says.

Monitoring“The City will continue to monitor the conditions at the facility. Furthermore, the City and Western Cape government’s social development departments are also involved in the area to help the community,” she says.

The City of Cape Town plans to develop land for the next Masiphumelele housing project.

It is estimated that the tender will be advertised in the middle of the year and that construction will take two years.

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