Hermanus 'backyarders' pave the way for land ownership

Western Cape Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela at the community update following the protests in Hermanus. (Jenni Evans, News24)
Western Cape Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela at the community update following the protests in Hermanus. (Jenni Evans, News24)

Residents of Zwelihle in Hermanus and the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements have begun the process of land allocation, paving the way for what will eventually mean full ownership of identified sites.

Speaking to the residents on Wednesday, Housing MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela said the correct beneficiaries would be allocated a piece of land to call their own, but added that the process must be done properly.

Violent protests erupted in March after residents took to the streets and demanded housing. Some said they had been renting for 20 years while they waited for a house.

PICS: Road closed in Hermanus as large crowd gathers to support arrested protesters in court

Those arrested for public violence have been divided into three groups, who are applying for bail in the Hermanus Magistrate's Court.

Speaking about the allocation process, Madikizela said: "We don't want to create a situation where we just dump you there. No. It is about making sure people get ownership to those sites, and get title deeds," he said.

He said the Zwelihle "backyarders" will need a place to grow with their families.

To do this, the authorities needed to know exactly how many people the municipality and department has to plan for when subdividing possible stands.

Madikizela said that despite the three sites identified, there were laws and regulations that had to be expedited first.

The exact size and ownership of the sites needs to be documented and confirmed, and the list of "backyarders" who are driving the Zwelihle issue must be checked thoroughly by community leaders to ensure the intended beneficiaries' details are correct. This list will be compared with a housing waiting list which the municipality has.

The location of the possible sites is being withheld in case other residents swoop in and lay claim to them, unravelling the work done so far on restoring calm to Hermanus.

Madikizela said planning included putting in utilities and roads, and all will have to be done as quickly as possible.

He recommended that they all meet once a month for updates on progress, which will include how the land will be transferred to them and by whom.

The next community meeting was set for May 15.

However, between the monthly meetings, there must be "operational meetings" and meetings by chosen "decision makers" to expedite the operational matters, he said.

Residents, however, raised some concerns - among them that politics be kept out of the need for land.

READ: It's got nothing to do with party politics, say community leaders

Community representative Sicelo Gxamesi said Overstrand the laying of charges, by DA constituency head Masizole Mnqasela, against ANC MPL Cameron Dugmore last Friday damaged the trust they had all built.

Mnqasela told News24 last Friday that he did so after he saw a message exchanged between Dugmore and ANC provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs, during a community meeting on March 27 in Zwelihle, where Madikizela spoke.

Mnqasela said the text allegedly called for well-located land to be "identified and occupied".

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