Siyathemba – a new, greener home for 3400 people


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A R3bn relocation project has moved a community to a brand-new grener space. Bienne Huisman takes a tour

On the outskirts of Kathu in the Northern Cape, the new suburb of Siyathemba sprawls in neat grids over 500 brand-new houses, seven churches, police stations, schools and a youth centre.

The Siyathemba Youth Centre is a bright building with free Wi-Fi, a computer centre, counselling rooms, a foosball table and chess sets inside. Outside is a picnic area with braai facilities. There’s also an Astroturf soccer field, where young boys can be seen aiming a ball towards the goalposts.

One of the new facilities in Siyathemba is a police station

The youth centre was officially opened on April 16. At the event, Themba Mkhwanazi, the chief executive officer of Anglo American’s iron ore business, Kumba Iron Ore, said that a netball court would also be built. Pumla Titus, community liaison for Kumba Iron Ore’s Dingleton resettlement project, says: “At the opening, Mr Mkhwanazi said: ‘Why is there only a soccer field? What about the girls?’ So now a netball court is being built.”

During a tour of the youth centre’s grounds, Titus points at tractors that are busy levelling the ground for the netball court.

The R3 billion Dingleton resettlement project saw Kumba Iron Ore move about 3 400 people from Dingleton, which is about 20km outside Kathu, to Siyathemba. The mining company built the new suburb from scratch so that Kumba’s Sishen mine could extend its operations to the Dingleton area.

Siyathemba, which means “we hope”, has its own community centre and police station. Across the road from these facilities, a clinic is being built.

“The clinic is also a gift from Kumba,” says Titus.

The numbers

17 parks

2750 trees

3400 people relocated

200 elderly people fed a day

At the community centre, Titus points out the soup kitchen, where workers are busy preparing samp. They feed 200 people a day, some of whom are elderly and are unable to leave their homes. These residents have food parcels delivered.

“We have healthcare workers who take the meals and the medicine to their homes on weekdays,” says Titus.

There is also a library lined with books, and a computer centre with free internet and tables for reading. The community hall is fitted with a wooden podium and room dividers.

Children play on the newly installed Astroturf that is one of the features on the new settlement

Outside, the buildings are surrounded by lawns and flowerbeds. Large concrete bins sport “Siyathemba, don’t litter” signs.

A nearby park has jungle gyms, benches and trees. The suburb has 17 parks in total.

During a tour of Siyathemba, Titus explains that two or three trees were planted on each property, depending on its size.

This brings the total number of new trees in Siyathemba to 2 750 – mostly willows, mountain karee and white stinkwood.

The company also initiated a rainwater harvesting programme which means each house was fitted with a Jojo tank. In addition, each homeowner received a R15 000 inconvenience allowance, a curtain allowance and R100 000 as a community benefit fund.

The R3 billion Dingleton resettlement project saw Kumba Iron Ore move about 3 400 people from Dingleton, which is about 20km outside Kathu, to Siyathemba.

George Maluleke, the general manager of projects at Kumba Iron Ore, says negotiations between the company, Dingleton’s homeowners and local government started in 2007, though the construction of Siyathemba only got under way in 2014.

Dingleton’s residents were given two options.

The first, which 70% opted for, saw the company build them a house in Siyathemba, equal in size and quality to their Dingleton house – if not better. In the second option, those who did not want to move to Siyathemba could choose a payout. In these cases, the company, facilitated the purchase of a home elsewhere.

“The principle was that whatever they had in Dingleton, we would replace – like for like – or improve,” says Maluleke, adding that this is in line with the International Finance Corporation’s standards for resettlement. More than 98% of the community now lives in new homes.

“This has been a unique experience. There is a handful of homeowners who are still holding out. However, we are hopeful we will reach an agreement soon,” says Maluleke with a smile.

At the opening of the Siyathemba Youth Centre, Mkhwanazi told the crowd that building communities was about more than houses, services and roads: “By giving young people access to cultural and learning facilities, we will give them the opportunities they deserve. And by planting thousands of trees, we are playing our part in building a flourishing community.”

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