Protests, attempts to invade land affecting housing projects worth R1.3bn - City of Cape Town

Happy Valley residents in Cape Town clash with members of SAPS, Metro Police and private security guards on 28 July over land occupations.
Happy Valley residents in Cape Town clash with members of SAPS, Metro Police and private security guards on 28 July over land occupations.
Jaco Marais, Gallo Images, Die Burge
  • A reduction of the national urban development grant of R84 million is expected this financial year, Mayco member Malusi Booi said.
  • He said there needed to be a "societal consensus that we do not move forward and make progress when we invade land".
  • A new strategy for human settlements will undergo extensive public engagement in September.

Ongoing protests and attempts to invade land in Cape Town is affecting housing and informal settlement update projects worth more than R1 billion, the City of Cape Town said on Friday.

Adding to that, a reduction of the national urban development grant of R84 million was expected and would likely impact at least 10 housing projects to the value of more than R200 million in the current financial year, the mayoral committee member for human settlements, Malusi Booi, said.

The budget cuts meant instead of building 4 000 or more brick and mortar structures, it would only be able to build 1 800 units, he added.

"Added to this is the impact of what appears to be mostly orchestrated attempts to invade land and illegally occupy City projects, which are threatening housing and the upgrading of informal settlements projects to the value of some R1.3 billion.

"Should these projects be lost, it will not only be to the extreme detriment of the potential and future beneficiaries, it is to the detriment of Cape Town as a community."

According to Booi, the land occupation attempts were "mostly large-scale, well-planned, well-funded and orchestrated invasions".

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"Actions to prevent the invasions or illegal occupations have also been met in some areas with extreme violence and destruction of property and the breaking down of community facilities.

"It is clear that many thousands of law-abiding residents are silently bearing the severe impact of land invasions due to the unlawful actions of a relatively small group of people who occupy land illegally.

"Encouraged by those shouting for the City not to act against land invasions and illegal occupations, many now see this as a green light to invade land, community facilities and City projects," he said.

READ HERE | Cape Town protests: Plea to stop evictions and land occupation as Sisulu, Plato meet

Earlier this month, News24 reported the Legal Resource Centre (LRC) and SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) were set to launch urgent court proceedings in the Western Cape High Court against the City regarding its anti-land occupation policy.

It seeks to interdict the City from conducting any and all anti-land invasion operations. The SAHRC is also asking the court to void all existing court orders protecting specific sites from invasion.

Booi said there needed to be a "societal consensus that we do not move forward and make progress when we invade land".

"Look at the flooding misery where newly invaded areas have been the most affected by the recent storms. We also do not have the resources as a City to continuously divert funds from planned projects in our Integrated Development Plan to newly invaded areas."

He also said:

The money we are getting from the national government is decreasing, but the settlements and basic services needs are increasing. It does not add up.

He added a new strategy for human settlements would undergo extensive public engagement in September.

"It has been in formulation for almost two years as a means to enable greater partnership interventions in the human settlements sphere.

"This is crucial as a City government - a local municipality - cannot be solely responsible or solve the challenges of urbanisation, increased informality and of more affordable accommodation on a larger scale.

"We are working towards this goal already of finding new ways to tackle increased urbanisation and poverty due to South Africa's dire economic picture, but if we lose more land and projects to invasions, our city will continue to carry the negative impacts of land invasions such as fires, floods, health and safety conditions, unrest and instability."

Booi said the City had had to find ways to reallocate funds from all projects and programmes to ensure it "focuses strongly on our most vulnerable residents in informal settlements in particular with enhanced services".

"This comprises hundreds of millions of rand. It is a necessary step to take and it will of course also impact on planned formal projects and upgrade projects."

In a press briefing, he added his department was working in conjunction with the safety and security directorate and human settlements department to ensure homes in housing developments already allocated to people on the housing waiting list were not invaded.

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