Butterworth residents promised houses in 2008 won’t see it any time soon

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Residents promised houses in 2008 have a long wait ahead of them. (Photo: Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik, GroundUp)
Residents promised houses in 2008 have a long wait ahead of them. (Photo: Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik, GroundUp)
  • Formed in 1986, Yako informal settlement in Butterworth still has no basic services.
  • In 2008, 322 of its residents were promised houses within 12 months. To date no houses have been built.
  • The Eastern Cape Department of Human Settlements says it is waiting for the completion of bulk water provision in the area.

People have been living in Yako Informal settlement in Butterworth, Eastern Cape, since 1986. It has neither proper roads, toilets, or electricity. Some people have dug pit latrines, others use an open field. For electricity, some people use illegal connections, GroundUp reports.

In 2008, some 322 beneficiaries were registered for RDP houses, but to date nothing has been built for them. They say that the provincial human settlements department promised that construction of their houses would start in 2009.

Community leader Sivuyile Buyani said the department promised to move them into temporary houses while the RDP houses were being built. That never happened either.

READ HERE | Local government in South Africa is broken: but giving the job to residents carries risks

He said the department and Mnquma Local Municipality are, "... playing hide and seek".

"For years we have been in and out of the department offices with no proper answers. Instead, they would tell us to return to Mnquma and Mnquma will send us back to the department."

Masiza Mazizi, spokesperson for MEC for Human Settlements Nonkqubela Pieters, said the development was put on hold due to a scarcity of water, and that the development first needs bulk water infrastructure to be completed by the district and local authorities.

He said no funds had yet been approved for the project.

Ward 2 Councillor Mondi Molose (ANC) said the land is there; they are waiting for the houses.

READ | Pietermaritzburg residents burn tyres and block roads in service delivery protest

Community leader Loyiso Ntanjana points out that water was not raised as an issue in 2009. Butterworth was declared a drought disaster area by then Premier Phumulo Musualle in December 2015. Protests erupted in 2019 when Butterworth hit its day zero.

Water protests continued in 2020.

"I'm part of the people [sic] who drafted the [housing beneficiary] list and I submitted it to the Department of Human Settlements in 2008. Now people are expecting answers from me and I don’t have them. We have disabled people here who are supposed to be living in houses," said Ntanjana.

ALSO READ | Municipalities that don't spend government grants could lose out

Makhwangi Daba has lived in Yako since she was in her 40s. She was registered for one of the houses when she was 62. She is now 75.

"My first shack was built of planks until it was [too] old. I changed to zinc, and they are also [now too] old. I’m no longer working. I rely on an old age grant. I can’t afford to build another shack.

"When they promised us houses they said we will get them within 12 months, but we have been waiting for years," said Daba.

"At night I have no choice but to relieve myself in a bucket.

"I feel like we are being played. We are voters and when there are elections they act like they are fixing the housing issue. Then after elections, they are gone."

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