‘We want houses now’

2019-03-12 06:00

Overcome Heights was hit hard again by another fire last week and now residents say they want a proper plan for their housing problems.

The fire left at least hundred people homeless prompting the provincial minister of Human Settlements Bonginkosi Madikizela to go out to the area and assess the situation.

That left the people hopeful as they said their main concern was housing and having Madikizela there left them with a glimpse of hope.

According to residents Madikizela promised to return to the area with a housing feedback for the community.

But four months later, they are still waiting for his feedback and to hear the way forward when it comes to the housing problems. The first fire took place in October last year, leaving more than 200 people displaced.

Fawzia Cassiem, a community leader in Overcome Heights, says they are sick and tired of waiting for houses and they want officials to come to them with a solution.

“Every year it is the same thing. We lose a lot when these fires happen and those in power stall their feet. People want houses, we don’t want promises. A plan for housing is all we need now,” she says.

Cassiem says most of the people in the informal settlement have been there for over 15 years and most have been on the housing waiting list for years. They have been fighting to get houses with no luck. They have even proposed to the City of Cape Town to demolish the Italy Sports Field that has been damaged to open space for housing. “We were told it will take a long time to get the sports field demolished. We have to wait, we can’t wait for ever because we are the ones losing in this whole thing. We want an action plan for houses. The councillor doesn’t even talk for us when they go to the sub-council meetings. They don’t bring out plight forward, because if they did things will be solved quickly. They don’t care about us or our challenges,” she says.

Ward councillor Gerry Gordon says the people of Overcome Heights will benefit from the Pelican Park housing project phase 2. “The project is still on the initial stages but some people will benefit. However, who will benefit will depend on the housing criteria as well as the waiting. The steering committee will look into all these things. We are looking at solutions for the people of Overcome, and the Pelican Park Housing project is one of them,” she says.

Ntomboxolo Makoba-Somdaka, spokesperson for Human Settlements provincial minister Bonginkosi Madikizela, said the department is planning a process of developing the Greater Retreat Area and teams of professionals have been appointed to carry different responsibilities in preparation for this development.” The Department also identified land parcels in the vicinity that is suitable for development. The Department is working close with the City of Cape Town to ensure a better resettlement in the area that would help prevent a similar disaster from happening in future.”

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