Wolwerivier emergency settlement area chosen on merit – City of Cape Town

2017-02-03 17:32
Community leader Jakobus Isaacs said an Expanded Public Works programme only provided work for three months in Wolweriver (James de Villiers, News24)

Community leader Jakobus Isaacs said an Expanded Public Works programme only provided work for three months in Wolweriver (James de Villiers, News24)

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Cape Town – The City of Cape Town on Friday defended the establishment of Wolwerivier as an emergency housing settlement, saying that area was chosen on "merit".

This after News24 on Friday detailed the living conditions of some residents within the walled settlement where 500 families are forced to reside.

Residents stay in one or two-room corrugated iron structures two hours walk away from the closest shopping facilities and 30km from the city centre.

In an emailed reply to questions on Friday, member of the mayoral committee for informal settlements Xanthea Limberg told News24 that the area was chosen as it was suitable for service delivery.

"The land was deemed to be appropriate for what the city had envisioned for the Wolwerivier project as it was close to the locations where the beneficiaries originally resided," Limberg said.

"When identifying suitable land for people to live, it is important to note that each parcel of land has to be decided on merit."

Future opportunities

Wolwerivier is 20km from Donkin Tips, Milnerton, where some residents of Wolwerivier originally lived.

Limberg said the broader Wolwerivier area will see work opportunities in the future as development takes place.

According to Wolwerivier community leader Jakobus Isaacs, residents were promised paved roads, access to schools and jobs when they arrived in 2015.

He said an Expanded Public Works Programme project in the area only lasted three months and afterwards the majority of Wolwerivier residents were left jobless.

"I am disappointed because I was brought from the front to the back," Isaacs said.

Klaas Arendse, who stayed in Donkin Tips before he moved to Wolwerivier, said threats from authorities forced him to move.

Kallie Boorman inside his one bedroom home in Wolweriver (James de Villiers, News24)

No showers

"They said they will come with bulldozers at night to flatten our homes. They said we will be taken to prison if we don't leave," Arendse said.

Limberg, however, said residents moved to the area voluntarily.

News24 is in possession of copies of documents which say residents of Donkin Tips were asked to leave occupied private property after having stayed there for roughly 30 years.

The city maintains that all structures in Wolwerivier have built-in toilets and showers, but when News24 visited no showers were seen in homes.

Residents said they bathe in buckets.

No public facilities

According to Limberg, the Wolwerivier area was developed because it was owned by the City and was topographically suitable.

But Kallie Boorman disagreed and said the area was privately owned and developed on an old dam.

"In winter, all the streets look like a swamp," said Boorman, who moved to Wolwerivier after the property he lived on at a nearby farm was bought by private developers.

In 2015 the Social Justice Coalition and Ndifuna Ukwazi compiled a social audit of the settlement.

According to their findings, some households were overcrowded, subsistence farming was difficult due to the poor soil, tenants did not have access to showers, there were no public facilities and emergency and essential services struggled to find the location.

The city said eight emergency settlement areas exist within the metropolitan area.

"The beneficiaries were mostly relocated from landfill sites and the city wanted to improve their living conditions," Limberg said.

Read more on:    cape town  |  housing  |  service delivery

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