Weekly feedback sessions kick off

2018-06-05 06:00

Residents and backyard dwellers met on Wednesday night to be updated on their plea for additional housing.

Protests necessitated action and meetings to be held between various stakeholders, most notably the leadership group of Parkwood­.

Pastor Paul Phillips has been the convener of this group and says that more than 300 people were in attendance to deal with three main points of discussion – the possibility of handing over title deeds to residents in council rental units, finding available land for housing, and fast-tracking the proposed development plan for Parkwood.

Phillips says the response was positive, while ward councillor William Akim and subcouncil 18 chairperson Fred Monk were on hand to confirm the information being disseminated.

“The demands from the people are that they are still adamant that they have mandated us as a leadership that we must work around timelines.

“Every seven days we are going to await an outcome or a progress report from the authorities, because this process is going to take months and years.

“We are basically outlining what is on the table, but it is aligned to timelines. (Next) Wednesday the Human Settlements Department must give us an update on the process with regard to Parkwood,” says Phillips.

He adds that while he urges the community to be patient while the engagement process is ongoing, he is aware of a more active group who feel the need to continue their campaign.

“Our request was that residents should be patient and sit out this period while we are engaging with the authorities and they agreed to that in principle.

“They also state that all these processes must be linked to timelines, because we can’t forever be engaged in talks.

“There must be timelines set and that is also a reality,” explains Phillips.

Another concern raised in the session by backyard dwellers and leaders was to establish a standard rate at which tenants can charge backyarders for rent.

“We want to establish a consensus around setting a standard fee for all backyarders for what they can pay to the tenants until the other issue around title deeds has been sorted out,” says Phillips.

Chairperson of the Backyarders’ Association in Parkwood, Dominique Booysen, says that while talks are ongoing, the timing and priority of the issues need to be carefully thought out.

“We have a problem at the moment, because we were not availed for any of the meetings they had regarding the protests. The councillor was talking about title deeds for the tenants and the availability of land which they must first investigate. But we have a problem, because how can they hand out title deeds to the people first? Those very people are going to throw us as backyarders out.

“The tenants will turn around and say that those are their houses and that we must go. We asked them that they must sort out the backyarders first.

“They get housing for them first so that they can get them out of the system (before handing out title deeds),” says Booysen.

He says that the leadership group has requested a meeting with Western Cape MEC for human settlements, Bonginkosi Madikizela, to find out if land has been identified and to obtain feedback on progress since his visit two weeks ago.

“He must be able to tell us where he has made land available for the people,” Booysen says.

“He suggested the last time that maybe he can house some of the backyarders at houses in Pelican Park where they are building 3200 houses.

“But many of the people are asking why they need to go to Pelican Park when there is vacant land around us.

“We know that we are not going to get the land opposite the M5, but that was just a demonstration to show that we have a housing issue.”

Booysen adds that further violence is not endorsed should talks hit an impasse.

“They said it won’t happen overnight, but us as the committee we are against violence. We are now sitting without a rent office or a civic centre, because it was burnt out,” Booysen says.

“We are against violence and we are not inciting residents to react violently.

“We are just looking for houses, that is the main priority.”

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