Backyard dwellers slam Western Cape government over empty housing promises

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Controversial movement Gatvol Capetonians and its affiliates have slammed the Western Cape government, saying it has neglected to offer proper housing to backyard dwellers and that people who have been on housing lists in different communities for years are being overlooked for "people from the Eastern Cape". 

That is the view of Belhar pensioner David Myburgh, who says he has been on the waiting list for 13 years "but people from the Eastern Cape who move to the Western Cape get houses".

WATCH | Multiple Cape Town roads blocked as shutdown protest hits city

Myburgh puts the blame squarely at the feet of ward councillors who, he says, are full of promises but offer little delivery.

It's not the first time the group and its affiliates have used this rhetoric. In 2018, the group called for people to be "bussed back to the Eastern Cape".

At the centre of their ire, they say, is: 

  • a lack of housing opportunities for "brown" people; 
  • perpetuation of apartheid-style spatial planning; 
  • a lack of housing opportunities close to work; and 
  • the continued problems of the housing waiting list.

Bureaucratic nightmare

Michelle Fortuin, of Belhar Selfhelp believes the protest should not have happened given the amount of times they have been promised decent housing by either the provincial government or the ward councillors in the area.

"Honest to God, they promised to build houses and schools in the area," she said. 

Fortuin reveals that she lives in a wendy house in the area with her daughter and about 10 other people. She adds that applying for a house has turned into a bureaucratic nightmare.

Backyard dwellers from Belhar took to the streets

Backyard dwellers from Belhar took to the streets on Thursday saying they are tired of the government which is big on promises and small on delivery of houses. (Kamva Somdyala, News24)

'Heard their pleas'

"You get sent from one office to another and there are different conditions that you need to have at every one you go to," said Fortuin.

Western Cape Human Settlements MEC Tertuis Simmers said: "Backyard dwellers should know that I've heard their pleas and it is for this reason that, at the end of June 2019, I issued an executive directive to all municipalities in the province to include backyarders in their housing allocation criteria."

Several roads were temporarily affected and closed as a result of the protest action, but by mid-afternoon, several areas had been cleared.

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