‘We want houses, or else’

2016-06-07 06:00
Daniel Janse, Moerieda Slamia and Elzane Oudtshoorn sitting hopelessly outside a shack with nothing to do. The elderly say they have waited long enough for houses but nothing has come for them.         PHOTO: TIYESE JERANJI

Daniel Janse, Moerieda Slamia and Elzane Oudtshoorn sitting hopelessly outside a shack with nothing to do. The elderly say they have waited long enough for houses but nothing has come for them. PHOTO: TIYESE JERANJI

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Fed up residents from Village Heights and say they are sick and tired of waiting for houses and they are calling on the City of Cape Town to act now “or else all hell will break loose”.

For over 11 years residents have waited patiently for houses in their area, says Aysha Davids, Village Heights representative on the Hillview 2 Informal Settlement Community Association.

Daniels says that on several occasions, the informal settlement community has called the City to the table to discuss the possibility of housing, but have received “empty promises”.

“Following several meetings with City officials we were told the areas will have a survey done which will help in delivering houses to the area,” she says.

But just when they thought something was being down about their lack of houses and the house planning survey was being done, it was abruptly stopped, Davids claims.

In a letter they sent to the City on Wednesday 25 May questioning why the survey was stopped, they insist City officials told them that they were stopping the survey due to instructions from councillor Shaun August.

“None of the residents were consulted about the survey being stopped. With the obstacles before them, they feel they will never own a house,” she says.

In the letter they sent to the City they also demanded that the City come up with a plan to deliver houses in the area.

Chairmaine Pretorius, chairperson of the Hillview 2 Informal Settlement Community Association, says the City must come to party.

“We sent them a letter and we want a response in two weeks. We are lenient with them; we even gave them a grace period up to the last day of the month. We want to know why they stopped the survey and most importantly we want to know when we will get houses. If they don’t come back to us, there will be a mass protest,” she warns.

“We are going out in full force and we will close off the robots. In that way, we know they are going to listen. We are giving them this month to come up with a plan; we are sick and tired of waiting and empty promises. People want houses. How long must we struggle in the camps? It has to come to an end.”

Community members say they can’t wait any more. Daniel Janse (83) is one of the many people in this area that have given up on ever owning a house. 

Currently he is sharing a shack with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Janse says he has lost all hope of getting his own house. “I’m too old. I have waited long enough already. I don’t think I will have a house anymore. I’m growing old and the City is taking their time. I will die in a shack which will fall any time. I have been on the waiting list for long, but nothing has been done to help me.”

Another resident, Moerieda Slamia (52), says she applied for a house a long time ago but still lives in a shack.
“Life is very difficult. Living like this is such a painful thing. I want a good life as well as a proper house for me and my children. We have waited for years. All we get is empty promises. Now if the City doesn’t want to listen, we will make them listen – we know just how.”

Benedicta van Minnen, the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for human settlements confirms that the letter was received and the complainant was contacted. “The Human Settlements Directorate is planning surveys within various informal settlements across the city. This allows the City to give the residents Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) opportunities while conducting these surveys. The officers, as part of their daily functions, started the survey in Village Heights. Councillor August then requested that the Informal Settlements Department wait until the funding to provide EPWP opportunities is in place. The survey will commence soon and will be conducted throughout all of the informal settlements in the Heights at the same time,” she says.

Van Minnen adds there are no brick and mortar housing projects planned within the mentioned informal settlement areas. “The City is working with Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading Non-Profit Company (VPUU NPC) on the upgrading or improvement of the settlements in the Heights, and as such, this will be a housing project, although without brick and mortar houses. The City’s Informal Settlements Management Team had a meeting with the community’s leadership and their councillors to discuss why the survey has been postponed and explained the EPWP process as well. They were also given a platform to raise their concerns, which the City has listened to and also reached consensus around their concerns.”

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