Petition against housing

2017-10-10 06:00

A group of Masiphumelele residents, led by the Masiphumelele business development forum, delivered a memorandum to the subcouncil offices on Wednesday.

The memorandum supports the development of infrastructure, such as a planned fire station, on a Kommetjie Road site, named Solole, instead of housing, to create long-term employment.

The forum has also spoken against what it perceives to be outside interference by community activists. In the memorandum, the forum calls for an audit of community activists Lutz van Dijk and Rosemary Milbank. “We as the people of Masi want those in authority to note that we will speak for ourselves through our leaders. We are opposed against people who say they represent us without our permission or mandate. This is a lot of land available in the valley that is much more appropriate to develop for decent houses,” the memorandum states.

Earlier this year, Milbank raised concerns that the development of municipal facilities would replace housing on the Kommetjie Road site (“Flames fan over station”, People’s Post, 1 August).

Milbank said at the time the Solole site had been bought for affordable housing but, based on reports at community meetings, would be used for municipal facilities – such as a trauma unit and Law Enforcement office – with little public consultation having taken place. Facilities such as police stations and the False Bay Hospital were already available to the community who had a bigger need for housing and municipal services, she previously told People’s Post.

The City of Cape Town started the process of building a fire station on the site following a devastating fire in Masiphumelele in 2015 (“Site for Masi fire station”, People’s Post, 8 December 2015). The decision to build a fire station in Masiphumelele was based on a study by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research on the placement of fire stations to best serve the communities, particularly those vulnerable and prone to fires over the next 18 years. This study revealed a lack of coverage for Ocean View and Kommetjie as a result of the expansion of these areas, JP Smith, Mayco member for safety, security and social services, previously said. In addition, the fire station will not take up the entire site, with a portion allocated to housing.

Van Dijk has responded to what he calls a “defamation campaign against me and Milbank”. “Your memorandum shows that you and your friends sadly have no idea what gap housing actually means and how City councillor Brett Herron has recently declared a positive shift in the City’s housing policy also regarding Solole land,” he says.

“Yes, have everything investigated on the highest level. The past 16 years I raised more than R30m for health, education and housing in Masi in different projects. I paid for all costs related to fundraising (like travel and inviting donors) myself. I earn my living exclusively as a writer. I never expected a word of gratitude because I saw this as my modest contribution to overcome extreme poverty and on closing the extreme gap between a few very wealthy and so many still very poor people in South Africa,” says Van Dijk.

“I expect an apology one day for your defamation campaign. Because it does not only present an effort to confuse and instigate other Masi residents, but it also divides the Masi leadership further.”

Milbank has also welcomed an audit, saying she is “shocked by the fact that privileged neighbours of Masi who don’t want gap housing on Solole prompted and encouraged the few gullible people to be pawns in their political game”.

“A set of demands was made by a man who lives in Khayelitsha, and who told me that he funded the march and that he has no family or friends in Masi. He said this was ‘only the beginning’. The shocking waste of time of the numerous police members and their vehicles that were used during the six hours of the ‘non-event’ while they could have been present in Ocean View, was appalling,” she says.

Among other demands, the memorandum calls for the construction of a taxi rank to be “sped up to change the face of Masi for the better”. It also highlights the need for a fire station in the area, following a fire last year in which “500-plus shacks burned down”, saying community members “fear for our lives when fires break out”.

The forum also says that instead of housing opportunities, there is a need for community facilities for the youth, elderly and unemployed. It also requested the development of a multipurpose centre for skills training and sport, arts and cultural events.


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