Representatives from several camps across the Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA) gathered at the subcouncil 18 offices in Lotus River last Friday.
The public meeting, chaired by City of Cape Town councillors George March and Elton Jansen, with Rehana Tiry from the Western Cape Government’s Department of Human Settlements, was to give the camp leaders an update on land provision promised to the people (“Seeking possible land”, People’s Post, 29 May).
The feedback follows a recent meeting held at the Western Cape Government’s offices in Wale Street, in the Cape Town CBD on Thursday 13 September.
The meeting was called to discuss the development of 19 informal settlements in the PHA.
At the meeting it was confirmed that the Department of Human Settlements had acquired eight parcels of land in planning for the development.
Tiry explains the scope of work and confirmation of informal settlements covered by the department was also discussed, where the background to the project was provided.
It is believed that the push for the projects for the area stems from community unrest related to service delivery issues that started with the Siqalo informal settlement earlier this year.
The unrest affected informal settlements in other areas of mostly privately owned land in the PHA.
When the government intervened at the time of the unrest, the need was established to convene a technical team, which would also constitute City officials, to deal with the plethora of demands.
“We have sent out technical teams to advise on possible options for the project, and who will also discuss their role on the project at our next meeting. There has been land that was identified and purchased and we are in the process of identifying how many people can be accommodated on it,” says Tiry.
She says Gibb Consulting Engineers was requested to start doing some activities in informal settlements that are owned by the state while the City field workers continue conducting various enumerations in the area.
While Tiry put great emphasis on the Siqalo informal settlement, participants in last week’s meeting were not happy to learn that Siqalo’s residents would benefit first from the project despite having moved into the area more recently.
Abe Abrahams, leader of the Egoli informal settlement in Schaapkraal, raised concern that camps older than 50 years are being overlooked.
“I don’t think it is right.
“They can’t tell us that a new camp which was only established [yesterday] will get first privilege because of the unrest that they started.
“We had a peaceful protest, but we are still waiting.
“This meeting was not really fruitful,” he said.
When People’s Post asked why Siqalo residents will benefit first from the project, Tiry said it is because the land on which its people are currently situated is not suitable to live on.
A walk-about with the minister of human settlements earlier this year confirmed that most parts of the PHA area also not suitable to live or build on.
Tiry’s response to the question angered many camp leaders sitting at the round table.
Jansen, ward 43 councillor, explained that the settlers don’t need to worry about being placed last on the list.
“I am certain that the projects will accommodate everyone at the same time. Unfortunately, because of the unrest in Siqalo and the conflict with residents from Mitchell’s Plain, it was agreed that this camp will be looked at with great importance.
“This was already done by the government and I can’t change it. I am still battling to get the owners of some privately-owned land to work with me, by giving permission to accommodate residents in certain camps with electricity and so forth.
“I am trying my best to see to this issue and would like representatives from all the 19 camps to be present at our next meeting.
“We only had five camps present at this important meeting that was meant to benefit all the camps’ leaders and their people.”
Meanwhile, March explained that while land cannot be given to the residents overnight, the City will try and accommodate them with other means of service delivery.
A follow-up meeting with the leaders of all 19 informal settlements will take place today (Tuesday 9 Ocotober).