Cato Crest residents battle continuous demolitions

1 day 14 hours ago
“All of my son’s school books have been burnt, books that I had bought with my last cents. What will I tell him? Where will he even sleep?”

By Nomfundo Xolo

Phot of man watching home burning
Yongama Myeni, 27, watches his home smoulder. He says he’s lost all clothing, furniture and food after the Anti-Land Invasion Unit burnt down his home. Photo: Nomfundo Xolo

More than 30 families sit destitute. People are crying. About 20 Anti-Land Invasion Unit officers as well as metro police have been burning and demolishing their shacks in Ekhanana, Cato Crest.

Friday’s eviction is the third in January. The shack dwellers movement, Abahlali Basemjondolo, believes the evictions are illegal following a court agreement with the eThekwini Municipality last year. GroundUp was not able to get comment from the municipality by the time of publication.

Abahlali Basejondolo’s Mqapheli Bonono said: “On 27 December 2018 we approached the High Court for an urgent interdict against the repeated attacks on the eKhanana occupation. The municipality was allowed time to prepare responses on the case. The court ordered that no evictions should take place until the matter had been resolved. These evictions were therefore in violation of both the law and the specific instruction of the court.”

Evictions took place on Monday and again on Thursday. But soon after the land invasion unit left on Thursday, residents quickly rebuilt their homes only to watch them destroyed once again on Friday morning. Evicted families, many with children, said Friday’s eviction had been the worst.

“It’s been painful before but today it’s unbearable. We have children who will come back to ashes. Just yesterday we were picking up the pieces of what the security officers destroyed but today everything is gone. All of my son’s school books have been burnt, books that I had bought with my last cents. What will I tell him? Where will he even sleep?” asked an emotional father, Yongama Myeni.

Myeni lives with his six-year-old son who started grade one on Monday. He says he had decided to look after his son so he could attend a better school. For nearly an hour, he has been sitting next to his burnt out shack, watching his son’s books as they turn to dust.

Since August 2018 the residents of the newly erected informal settlement of Ekhenana have been in an ongoing battle with the eThekwini Municipality. Many of the residents say they were evicted from an informal settlement in Cato Crest, where they had been renting shacks, in order to make way for a new road.

Another resident who lost his home, Wiseman Buthelezi, says some members of the community have been living outside since Wednesday because building material has been completely destroyed. He says residents fear evictions every day:

“We have nothing left, just the clothes on our backs and the rage that keeps us going. We have begun the fight for this land, and we still stand by our words. We are not going anywhere. When they burnt the shacks today they were also burning up our anger. We will not let them treat us like animals in the jungle. This is our own revolution and if they come at us again, we will be ready,” he said.

Nhlanhlenhle Shandu said: “I was cooking when I first heard the noise. When I went to look outside there were already three security men and a woman approaching my house. I quickly collected my ID, passport, and Abahlali Basemjondolo membership card, grabbed my son and took my food outside. When they arrived, they began swearing at me asking why I am living in a forest with a child, another officer threatened to hit me with an axe. That is when I ran with my son on my back and took him to the neighbour to hide.”

Published originally on GroundUp .

© 2019 GroundUp.
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Cities and local governments lead the actions on the role of culture in sustainable development

1 day 15 hours ago
Submitted by uclguser2 on Fri, 18/01/2019 - 16:48
Cities and local governments lead the actions on the role of culture in sustainable development

Buenos Aires is a founding member of the UCLG Committee on Culture, and has extensively contributed to the work programmes of the Committee. It is the current Co-President of the Committee.

The UCLG Culture Summit is the main meeting point at global level of cities, local governments and other stakeholders that are committed to the effective implementation of policies and programmes on culture and sustainability.

The Culture Summit of Buenos Aires is based on the results of the previous Summits, held in Bilbao in 2015 with the theme “Culture and sustainable cities”, and in Jeju in 2017 with the title “Commitments and Actions for Culture in Sustainable Cities”. The Summits show that cities are leading the way in recognizing the absolute necessity of cultural factors as a key dimension of sustainable development. This is why the third UCLG Culture Summit will be called Culture in Sustainable Development. Cities Lead.

SAVE THE DATE ! The 3rd UCLG Culture Summit will take place in Buenos Aires (Argentina) on 3-5 April 2018.

The Summit is a forum for knowledge-sharing, peer-learning and networking among cities and local governments. It expects to gather approximately 500 participants from all world regions. Over three days, the Summit will combine plenary sessions, smaller and thematic parallel sessions, project presentations and networking spaces.

It will tackle the following key themes:

  • Culture in the SDGs: towards 2030
  • A gender perspective in cultural policies
  • Implementing Culture 21 Actions
  • Social Transformation and Culture
  • Independent culture

The third Summit will address the place of cultural aspects within the global agendas on sustainable development (namely, the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals), as well as how to strengthen the position of culture in their implementation. The document entitled “Culture in the SDGs: a Guide for Local Action” provides guidance in this area.

Buenos Aires is a founding member of the UCLG Committee on Culture, and has extensively contributed to the work programmes of the Committee. It is the current Co-President of the Committee.

Don't miss the new Summit website! 
UCLG and its Committee on Culture is pleased to announce to all its members the launch of the website dedicated to the next Culture Summit:
The site provides information on the key topics to be discussed at the Summit, the programme to be updated together with the available cultural visits. In the section "Culture 21" and "Buenos Aires" you will learn more about the host city of the event and UCLG's role in promoting culture in sustainable cities.
Online registration  is now open! 


Showdown with Herman Mashaba looms over housing court order

2 days 18 hours ago
Municipality has missed deadline to find accommodation for Hillbrow residents, but Johannesburg official says backlog is the fault of past administrations

By Zoë Postman

Photo of Hillbrow apartment
Ingelosi House in Hillbrow is severely dilapidated. Photo: Zoë Postman

“It’s difficult because we are living in fear … most of us have children and at any moment we could be evicted and left on the street,” says Thulisile Ngubane, 40, a resident of Hillbrow, Johannesburg.

Ngubane lives with her husband and four children in a ground-floor room in Ingelosi House, a privately owned building that was occupied after it had been left vacant for a few years.

Ngubane moved into the building after her husband, who was the only breadwinner, lost his job. She says they could not afford rent elsewhere.

The building has three floors with 21 rooms and about 90 residents. When GroundUp visited the building, it was severely dilapidated. All the residents share two toilets on the ground floor.

The showers and bathtubs were not functional, the windows were broken and one of the two staircases had collapsed. The electrical wires were exposed in the corridors and parts of the building were in complete darkness.

Ngubane currently pays about R500 a month for rent. “Rent is more expensive out there. It will be more than R1,000 which we just cannot afford … Most of us here are unemployed and we still need to send our children to school and put food on the table for them.”

Like most of the residents, Ngubane says, her family will be left homeless if they are evicted from the building with no alternative accommodation.

In December, the Socio Economic Rights Institute (SERI) launched a case in the Gauteng High Court to hold Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba, City Manager Ndivhoniswani Lukhwareni and Director of Housing Thabo Maisela individually responsible for providing alternative accommodation for the Ingelosi residents.

This followed a ruling by the Gauteng High Court in April last year that the City should provide alternative accommodation close to Ingelosi House by the end of October 2018. The City has not provided accommodation to date. SERI is now asking the court to give the City officials two months to comply with the April order. If they fail to comply, SERI intends to institute contempt of court proceedings.

“There’s nothing that makes someone act like a threat of imprisonment … this is a last resort and we are prepared to see it through. In other words, if it means that we’ve got to send the mayor to prison, that’s what we intend doing,” says Thulani Nkosi, a lawyer from SERI.

After the building was illegally occupied in 2011, the property was purchased and the owner was granted an eviction order by the Gauteng High Court. The residents then approached SERI for legal representation to challenge the order.

Nkosi said SERI had appealed the eviction order because the court had not been provided with all the information about the personal circumstances of the residents such as their income, living expenses and means to obtain alternative accommodation.

“Until such time as the court has at its disposal this information, whatever eviction order it makes would not be just and equitable because ultimately it was going to lead to homelessness,” Nkosi said.

SERI won the appeal and the court ordered the City to establish the personal circumstances of the residents.

The City agreed that the residents would be left homeless but said in its court papers that it was struggling to provide alternative accommodation because the high demand for Temporary Emergency Accommodation (TEA), especially in Hillbrow, greatly outweighed the City’s resources.

“The overwhelming and ever increasing demand for TEA has resulted in a severe backlog in the creation of TEA facilities,” said the City.

The City’s Director of Housing Thabo Maisela told GroundUp that there are about 8,000 households dating back to 2010 that need TEA. He said the backlog was caused by the lack of action by the City when it was first mandated by the court to provide alternative accommodation.

“The owners wanted their buildings back and the City’s approach was to say ‘it’s not our business; it’s the business of the private landlord and the residents and we should not get involved’… Had we been proactive at the time, we probably would not be sitting with this [backlog],” Maisela told GroundUp.

Despite the high demand for TEA, Maisela said the City would have to accommodate the residents of Ingelosi House because of the April 2018 judgment, “even though it’s somewhat of a queue jump”.

He said the City had identified two buildings, Fraser House and 106 Claim Street, in the city centre for the Ingelosi residents but was still considering whether this was a viable option.

To counter the backlog and high demand, Maisela said the City planned to focus on providing TEA facilities this year. “The buildings that were prioritised for low income housing for this financial year, we have taken the decision that all of those buildings will now be used for TEAs… We are no longer playing around. We now mean business when it comes to TEAs,” said Maisela.

Maisela said he could not provide an exact date when emergency housing would be available for the residents of Ingelosi.

Published originally on GroundUp .

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Rental Tribunal sends clear message to landlords: Don’t treat tenants unfairly

2 days 18 hours ago
Two Salt River families win cases against property owner

By Wilmien Wicomb

Photo of a street
Tenants in Goldsmith Street, Salt River, have won against their landlords at the Rental Tribunal. Photo from <a href="">Google Street View</a>

Zubeida Hendricks is 81 years old. She has lived on Goldsmith Street in Salt River, Cape Town, for 51 years. She shares the house with her son, his wife and two children.

In January 2017, her landlord informed her that he was intending to maintain the property and therefore needed her to vacate within a month. If she refused, she would be evicted without notice and at her cost.

Hendricks, represented by Ndifuna Ukwazi Law Centre, took her landlord to the the Western Cape Rental Housing Tribunal. There the landlord admitted that his real intention was to sell the property.

The Tribunal was not impressed. It found that the landlord’s notice was an unfair practice. It did not refer to any breach of the lease agreement by Hendricks or any of her fellow tenants. Moreover, it did not reveal the real motivation for the eviction which was to sell the property.

Omar and Faieza Salie are senior citizens who have been living in a house on Goldsmith Street for 36 years. Their combined pension is R3,600 per month. They are also supported by their children.

While they had never signed a rental agreement, their rent had been increasing at 10% a year for decades. In November 2015 however, it increased by 25% and in January 2018 by a further 36%, after the regular 10% increase just three months earlier.

They refused to pay this further increase, so their landlord — the same landlord who tried to evict Hendricks — served a notice on them to vacate the property.

The Salies — like Hendricks — took their case to the Rental Tribunal, and were also represented by the Ndifuna Ukwazi Law Centre.

The Rental Tribunal has the power to rule that a rental amount or increase is an unfair practice in terms of the Act, but is guided to rule in a manner that is just and equitable both for the tenant and the landlord. Thus, in making a ruling, the Tribunal must at least take into account, on the one hand, the need for affordable housing and, on the other, the landlord’s intention of making a realistic return on her investment. Judge Cameron, for the Constitutional Court, has explained it thus:

The [Rental Housing] Act abolished rent control legislation, but in its stead enacted a more complex, nuanced and potentially powerful system for managing disputes between landlords and tenants….Even-handedly, it imposes obligations on both….The statutory scheme is therefore acutely sensitive to the need to balance the social cost of managing and expanding rental housing stock without imposing it solely on landlords….At the same time, the Act does not ignore the need to protect tenants. Its most potent provisions are those at the centre of the dispute in this case, namely termination of a lease and rental determinations that are just and equitable. The Act expressly provides that a landlord’s rights against the tenant include the right to “terminate the lease…on grounds that do not constitute an unfair practice and are specified in the lease”.

The Tribunal found that the rent increases imposed on the Salies were exorbitant. It took into consideration the state of disrepair and the lack of maintenance of the property.

The Tribunal ruled the landlord could not reasonably rely on significant returns on his investment. Despite the state of the property, the rent he wanted to impose was above the market average for the Salt River neighbourhood.

In both cases the Tribunal found that the landlord’s right to a favourable return on his investment was outweighed by the rights of their tenants to affordable housing.

Three similar cases from Salt River are expected to be ruled on by the Tribunal in March.

These rulings show that, while landlords are entitled to make a return on their investment, they cannot treat tenants unfairly in order to do so.


Published originally on GroundUp .

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South Africa's First Smart Lighting Architectural Installation

3 days 20 hours ago
The iconic Rosebank Link building features South Africa’s first custom-designed full-colour LED video screen engineered to be an integral part of the building’s fabric.

The iconic Rosebank Link The building’s exterior lights are not made of individual lights, but are in fact narrow strips of video screen.

Johannesburg’s Rosebank has long been known as a cosmopolitan, trend-setting district, but now, thanks to digital display services company Primary Colours, it’s not just the street fashion that’s turning heads.

Opposite the Gautrain station on the Oxford Road thoroughfare, the iconic Rosebank Link building features the future of display advertising. Billboards on the sides of buildings are nothing new, but in the past they have always been added after the fact.

Thanks to a unique collaboration between Paragon Architects, Redefine Properties (the building owners) and Primary Colours, the Rosebank Link now features a dramatic full-colour LED video screen that has been custom-designed and engineered to be an integral part of the building’s fabric, and to contribute to the edifice’s striking appearance.

Not only is Primary Colour’s Rosebank screen one of the largest LED screens in South Africa, it is also the country’s largest operational example of a strip screen display. The building’s exterior lights – which, like the screen content, can be controlled and manipulated remotely, are not made of individual lights, but are in fact narrow strips of video screen.

“Using this new DigiLED technology, we’ve been able to create an exceptionally flat screen that offers maximum viewing angles to both pedestrians and drivers using this major city artery,” explained Primary Colours directors Ashendra Singh and Grant Neill. “With no off-angle colour shift, this new screen offers advertisers a unique way to tell their stories in the most impactful way possible,” they added.

With HD 720 resolution and the ability to display 16 million colours, the complete screen measures 18 metres wide and 7 metres high (1 728 pixels wide x 745 pixels high). Geometric-pattern cladding was used to underline the fact that the screen is an authentic part of the building’s fabric.

While the screen itself represents cutting edge technology, it is arguably the building’s strip lighting (attached to the Rosebank Link via watertight perforations in the building façade) that is the most exciting aspect of this project. Most impressive when viewed at night, the ribbons of coloured video displays are designed to reflect from the building’s edges, giving a more harmonious “wash” effect. This “smart lighting” has a total length of 226 metres, and stretches across 15 floors of the building.

The post SA’S FIRST SMART LIGHTING ARCHITECTURAL INSTALLATION appeared first on Leading Architecture & Design.

Flooring : The whole Works from Interface

3 days 20 hours ago
KBAC Flooring has launched the Interface Works Collection, a new innovative range of affordable

The Interface Works Collection features organic, biophilic and geometric designs in coordinating colours for easy mixing and matching.

Interface, the world’s largest modular flooring producer – represented in South Africa by KBAC Flooring – has launched The Works, a new innovative range to create tranquil and comfortable office or home spaces.

Hannetjie Smit, KBAC Flooring’s Sales Consultant in Johannesburg, says: “The Works Collection consists of four colour-coordinated designs to solve a wide range of flooring challenges. A major advantage is that the new range comes at an extremely affordable price – an important consideration during economic crunch times with limited budgets for interior designers.”

The Interface Works Collection is basically a collection of square-patterned, structured loop pile carpet tiles suitable for ashlar, brick, monolithic and non-directional installation. The collection features organic, biophilic and geometric designs in coordinating colours for easy mixing and matching. “Furthermore, a common yarn system means the product is compatible with other Interface products with similar yarns – such as Interface’s equally affordable Employ range. The Employ Loop and Lines ranges have been hailed by designers for their unlimited creative design options in commercial installations,” she adds.

The new Interface Works Collection designs stocked by KBAC Flooring consist of:

  • Works Flow – With nature as inspiration, this organic pattern offers natural variation with 12 colourways ranging from neutral to pastel, reminiscent of a marble floor or a flowing river; and
  • Works Geometry – A modern look for contemporary spaces, Works Geometry offers a varied linear pattern, creating a solid foundation for any modern space. The range comprises nine colourways, featuring both neutral and colourful designs.

In line with Interface’s Mission Zero pledge to have zero negative impact on the environment by 2020, the new ranges feature exceptionally high recycled content and 100% renewable energy. “These credentials make it the most sustainable carpet tile offering currently on the market,” Hannetjie adds.


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Why early-stage pool design planning is critical

3 days 20 hours ago
Pool design trends and why early stage pool design planning is critical to the long-term outlook on lowering SA’s drowning statistics.

When it comes to fitting a solid safety cover, the perfect pool is one with clean lines, no extruding features that will interrupt the cover, a single level pool and 600mm of durable/sturdy paving or decking on the long edges and 800mm on the shallow and deep ends.

In recent years, the South African homes have become far more focused on blended indoor/outdoor living and common spaces, with swimming pools becoming the focal point of these areas. Within the design trend, one can see South Africans (slowly) starting to respond to the call to action on more sustainable living especially when it comes to being water efficient, but pools are still not being planned or designed correctly for safety, and this is having a direct impact on child drownings, according to PowerPlastics Pool Covers, the leading pool cover supplier in South Africa.

“We get the calls all the time. ‘Just finished building or refurbishing my pool and outdoor area. Can you come out and design a pool cover as I have small kids?’ We get excited, knowing we can add a beautiful finish to the new pool area, only to find the pool actually can’t be covered. Either it’s a rim flow pool, or it has a fountain or some kind of water feature, a fire pit, multiple levels with a jacuzzi on the side, etc. And there is just no way we can secure the pool for children. Basically, their pool builder and architect haven’t given a thought as to how the pool can be made safe,” says Caryn Formby of PowerPlastics Pool Covers.

The topic of pool safety legislation has been on the cards for a long time and for good reason. Local drowning statistics are too high. This is one form of child mortality that is entirely preventable.

“This was once going to be approached as an enforceable municipal by-law but the process was changed and it has become a SABS recommended Standard and falls under the Building Regulations. The SABS has just been through a public participation process to agree on the Standards around what constitutes safety around private swimming pools (SANS 10134). This Standard is also referred to in the National Building Act, SANS 10400D where it addresses public access to pools.

“But Public Access is not the only key area where children drown. The neighbour’s child is one of the areas which would be covered in Public Access but, in addition, one needs to protect the child of the worker on site, the unsupervised child when adults are partying around the pool area, etc. These are difficult areas for the National Building regulators to enforce laws as they cannot make you shut the fence or place the safety cover or net on the pool.

“The Western Cape Government has also recognised the extent of the child drowning problem and has recently launched the Western Cape Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Strategy which prioritises programmes that will promote water safety, including safety around domestic pools. This initiative is of immense importance and has high level support from local government, municipalities and authorities including the Medical Research Council and the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI).
“So with the SABS Building Standard only being a Public Access recommendation and although the Western Cape is tackling this at an educational level, it must still fall to a responsible parent and / or a responsible pool builder and architect to ensure the pool is secured properly,” says Formby.

This means a considered design to the pool. Making it safe is as important to the overall build as any engineer or architect, and a pool cover specialist must be a part of the project team from the start. To plan the placement of a safety pool cover, it is critical to communicate a number of different things such as how frequently the pool will be used, the age of any children in the home, extended family, and visiting children, access from neighbouring properties, if natural pool heating is required, if pool cover automation is required, if pets are at risk of drowning, etc.

According to PowerPlastics Pool Covers, pool industry watchdog, the National Swimming Pool Institute (NSPI), has a lot to answer for.

“The NSPI openly congratulates pool builders showing a flagrant disregard for child safety. Out of the 30 winning pools at the 2018 NSPI National awards ceremony, 23 could not be made safe in our opinion. For 15 years we’ve been on a mission to inspire the pool industry to help lower drowning statistics by understanding pool safety and protecting children when designing and building pools, but to no avail. A few years ago, the NSPI introduced a Pool Cover section to their awards but that was then dropped after two years.

“We understand that homeowners may want these elaborate pools and outdoor spaces but as an industry, pool builders and architects need to be held accountable. They need to actively discourage such designs. They are simply not asking the homeowner if the sexy rim flow pool or beach entry design or the flower bed in the middle of the pool is worth a child’s life. They also need to understand that even if the pool can still be fenced off, it will still be heavy on power, water and chemicals as the water is exposed to the elements. A solid safety cover addresses both drowning prevention and sustainability at the same time. It’s only when we come in that the homeowner realises just how impractical their award-winning pool is.

“Glossy lifestyle media also unwittingly promoting impractical, unsafe pool designs but this is largely down to a lack of technical knowledge about pool cover installations. We are also educating them as influencers,” says PowerPlastics Pool Covers.

When it comes to fitting a solid safety cover, the perfect pool is one with clean lines, no extruding features that will interrupt the cover, a single level pool and 600mm of durable / sturdy paving or decking on the long edges and 800mm on the shallow and deep ends.  This allows for a cover such as the PowerPlastics Solid Safety Cover, which meets USA safety standards. The most important criteria for a safety cover are that it prohibits any object measuring 114mm in diameter from accessing the water / slipping under the cover; the fastenings / securing points must not be workable by a small child; it must have a tensioning system and a weight tolerance of 220kg; and after rainfall or if garden sprinklers are used, the water must drain off unaided and the cover must be dry within five minutes.

Small pools with simple designs can be quite striking with the right paint or a pretty gunite finish and beautiful decking or paving. PowerPlastics Pool Covers has recently launched an internal process to offer special design approaches to accommodate unique pool shapes and designs. This comes at a higher, customised price to the consumer but at least the majority of pools are then made safe.

“A pool can certainly look good and still be safe. But if fewer children are to drown, we need to tackle the legislative framework and awareness in a far more constructive manner. The obvious place to keep keep applying effort is from within the build and design industry, and work with municipalities too. We welcome participation from the design, architectural and building sector as we continue with our efforts to lower local drowning statistics within the domestic swimming pool sector and reduce the environmental impact of domestic pools,” concludes PowerPlastics Pool Covers.

PowerPlastics Pool Covers is SA’s oldest pool cover manufacturer, with a national supply network and branches in Cape Town and Johannesburg, as well as an e-commerce ordering system. The full range includes safety, GeoBubble thermal covers, energy-saving covers and fully automatic slatted covers for the top end of the market. The company is also the founder of TopStep, the home of pool safety, an online educational resource for the industry, packed with tips on how to prevent drownings and tools for pool safety.

The post Why early-stage pool design planning is critical appeared first on Leading Architecture & Design.

Dozens of homes destroyed in Overstrand fire

5 days 6 hours ago
Betty’s Bay bears the brunt of blaze, which is now under control

By Ashraf Hendricks

Juanita Booyse and her husband Manie break down in tears outside their destroyed home in Bettysbay. The Booyses have been staying in Bettysbay for 9 years years and the lost of their home is “tragic”.
Juanita Booyse and her husband Manie break down in tears outside their destroyed home in Betty’s Bay. The Booyses have been staying in Betty’s Bay for nine years years and the loss of their home is “tragic”. Juanita says. Once she found out they needed to evacuate, she grabbed what little she could, packed it in the car and left.

Hundreds of people were evacuated in the Overberg region on Friday after a fire made its way closer to residential areas. The areas affected included Hermanus, Franskraal, Betty’s Bay and Karwyderskraal.

By early Saturday morning, with the help of rain, firefighters and aerial support, most of the fire was contained. Firefighting crews are remaining in the area in case of any flare-ups.

According to the the City of Cape Town’s Theo Layne, 31 residential properties were destroyed and an estimated of 12,800 hectares of vegetation has been destroyed.

Residential areas along Clarence Drive in Betty’s Bay got the worst of it. At least two vehicles were destroyed in the fire.

Jaco Strauss collects what he can from his burnt house. Strauss said that luckily no one was staying in the home at the time of the blaze as he usually rents it out.

Father Robert Bisell stands amongst the ruins of a Catholic church that was destroyed.

Although large swaths of vegetation were burnt in Betty’s Bay, many houses were left untouched by the fire.

Published originally on GroundUp .

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Managing life after war: how young people in Uganda are coping

6 days 21 hours ago
People in Uganda bear long term physical, emotional, social and economic scars from the years of deadly conflict. EPA/Stephen Morrison

For over two decades between 1986 and 2006, northern Uganda experienced a prolonged conflict pitting government forces against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels. The conflict, the longest of Uganda’s post independence struggles, was rooted in the colonial legacy of divide-and-rule. This was often along ethnic and regional lines.

The conflict had a devastating impact on the population. People were killed, maimed, displaced, tortured, abducted and raped. At the height of the conflict, nearly 2 million people were displaced in the two most conflict affected sub regions – Acholi and Lango.

A study found that approximately 100,000 people were killed during the conflict, with another 60,000 to 100,000 abducted by the LRA. Some never returned, most of whom are presumed dead. The study further conservatively estimates that 24,687 individuals were victims of wartime sexual violence and that approximately 3,000 - 8,000 households in the regions have children born of these wartime sexual violence.

These crimes were life-changing and the individuals and their households in the region bear long term physical, emotional, social and economic scars.

Research from northern Uganda shows that young people who experienced or witnessed war crimes, especially those who suffered multiple war crimes, find it hard to regain time lost from schooling. They also experienced challenges maintaining good relations with their families and society in the post-conflict period.

Considering the enduring long-term effects of conflict it’s not surprising that conflict interventions have tended to focus on vulnerability, marginalisation and trauma. But in doing so they may obscure some important factors.

My long-term research in northern Uganda explored how the conflict affected the recovery of young people in the post-conflict period. I found that poverty, as well as societies that were deeply patriarchal, complicated their recovery process.

My research echoes similar findings in studies from other post conflict settings. These also show that broader social and economic conditions – particularly strict patriarchal societies – make it hard for young people to reintegrate into their families and society. These conditions inhibit survival strategies, limit choices and constrain decisions around rebuilding lives. This is particularly true for women survivors of wartime sexual violence and their children born of war.

What I found

One of my key findings debunked the idea that “recovery” is linear or that the end of conflict “normalises” experiences of war crimes. Youth socio-economic recovery is not linear and will take time.

Post conflict recovery is largely driven by the assumption that as soon as conflict ends, normality returns. The assumption posits that people are able to move forward in an upward trajectory in the aftermath of conflict. The reality is far more complex. For example, years after the conflict in northern Uganda ended, young people who suffered multiple war crimes were still struggling to regain education and social status within their communities. And having little or no education affected their productivity, livelihoods, and earning potential – impacts that will likely be passed on to their children.

Similarly, the experience of sexual violence, particularly against young women both during and after conflict, complicated their lives and bred stigma which persisted and was amplified over time.

My findings demonstrate that young people’s lives don’t recover steadily following conflict. Recovery is often followed by periods of deterioration. And improvements can be small or intangible. Progress is likely to take a long time and for generations.

Another key finding was that broader social, cultural, economic, and political conditions also have a major impact on recovery. For example, the ability of young people to recover from conflict seemed largely linked to broader patriarchal gender norms within society as well as levels of impoverishment. An exclusive focus on war experiences misses these nuances.

A patriarchal society sets the conditions under which young women and men renegotiate their place in their families and society. These norms determine what access, opportunities and resources are available to young people to navigate their everyday lives and plan for their futures.

The third major insight was that more attention needs to be given to individual vulnerabilities and agency. While the conflict heightened individual vulnerability and complicated the recovery process, these factors didn’t entirely erase young people’s agency. Some youth were able to effectively and positively manoeuvre even within the limitations of their circumstances.

For example, women with some economic independence and own physical space, were able to negotiate their inclusion and acceptance in post-conflict society. That said, while some women’s choices led to positive outcomes, other women’s choices had negative effects, particularly when attempting to challenge patriarchy. They risked being locked out of family and social support systems as a result of their choices.

Going forward

Young people’s post-conflict reality calls attention to events beyond their war crimes experience. This includes the need to address the socio-cultural and economic environment prior, during and after conflict. Paying attention to these conditions provides a rich insight into their complex lives as they dictate and define access to opportunities and choices in the post-conflict period.

Finally, while suffering war crimes and experiencing conflict causes vulnerability, young people are not devoid of agency. It is important to look at every instance of progress or agency rather than reinforcing their vulnerability.

The Conversation

The research for this article was part of the UK Department for International Development (DFID) funded research, The Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium (SLRC) Programme ( at Overseas Development Institute, London. It was implemented at Wageningen University and Research under the supervision of: Prof. Dorothea Hilhorst (Erasmus University), Prof. Dyan Mazurana (Tufts University) and Assist. Prof. Margit van Wessel (Wageningen University and Research).

PERI stands tall with The Leonardo in Sandton

1 week 1 day ago
Formwork and scaffolding solutions provider PERI South Africa is standing tall with its long-standing involvement in The Leonardo.

The Leonardo is not only destined to be the tallest building in Sandton, but possibly the new record holder for the tallest building in Africa.

The Leonardo, cousin to the Legacy Group’s Michelangelo and Da Vinci buildings, will ultimately be the tallest building in Sandton, having been boosted from an original 47 to 55 storeys due to demand, with an anticipated final height in excess of 223m upon its completion in 2019. It is fitting that PERI, the world’s largest manufacturer of formwork and scaffolding, has been involved with this iconic project since 2015.

“The challenges have been many and varied – and we have enjoyed rising to every one of them. When the Legacy Group awarded our long-time client Aveng Grinaker-LTA the contract to build The Leonardo, we were awarded the basement levels initially, with the top structure to follow,” PERI Lead Engineer: Key and Strategic Projects Sebastian Burwitz explains.

While PERI South Africa has collaborated with Aveng Grinaker-LTA on a number of flagship projects, including the recently-completed Sasol headquarters, The Leonardo is the largest project to date for both companies.

The basement development alone included pouring and placing a total of 17 500 m³ of reinforced concrete, 1 380 tonnes of reinforcing steel, 40 000 m² of formwork, and the laying of 350 000 stock bricks, together with 8 000 m² of plaster, and 2 000 m² of screed.

In planning the basement slabs, PERI incorporated and supplemented Aveng Grinaker-LTA’s own stock of SKYDECK, its panelised slab formwork system, into the formwork layouts. Together with PERI’s MULTIFLEX, used in adjacent slab areas, the required slab loadings could be carried in the most efficient manner.

For the standard gang-formed vertical applications, PERI’s TRIO wall formwork system was used by Aveng Grinaker-LTA, with supplementary stock supplied by PERI to site. PERI’s manhandled DOMINO system was used to eliminate dependency on crane time for the internal walls and beam sides.

“PERI was able to use its innovative DUO system with polymer technology, also characterised by its low weight and extremely simple handling,” Burwitz adds, noting that the feedback to date has been very positive. “Aveng Grinaker-LTA has subsequently deployed DUO project-wide for ancillary works such as some water tanks and smaller retaining walls, where the system has really come into its own.”

The main focus for PERI was the gigantic core. Consisting of over 1 000 m2 of core walls, this is the centrepiece of Sandton’s tallest building. The core and slabwork have been staggered on purpose to allow for efficient access to shafts from slab level, and to maximise cranage advantage.

As a mixed-use development, The Leonardo will offer luxury residential apartments and penthouse suites, together with more than 15 000 m² of premium office space. It includes a business and conference centre, a gym and spa, restaurants, and recreational and lifestyle zones.

“We have been on-site since Q4 2015, commencing with the supplementary supply of PERI-owned materials that our client had in its yard.” Burwitz highlights that the main engineering goal was to complete the core design within budget and time constraints, as per the programme specified by the client. “Getting our heads around the sheer size and scope of the project was an important initial mental step,” he notes.

The 11-m-high key feature walls posed a particular challenge in that the patterns specified had to meet strict quality and design criteria. It was decided to cast these walls on-site as single elements, with close collaboration with suppliers in terms of the concrete mix required, the use of external vibrators to settle the concrete inside the form, and then the unusual feat of pumping concrete from the bottom-up firstly, and later from the top down. Here the correct sequencing was vital.

Extra attention had to be paid to health and safety in terms of the extreme height of the building, especially in terms of wind speed and pressure analysis for working at such heights. Here PERI provided dedicated training on its Rail Climbing System – Carriage (RCS-C) heavy-duty system. This training extended to toolbox talks with all foremen to ensure that they not only understood how the system worked, but how best to use it to speed up construction and ensure maximum quality.

PERI’s ongoing involvement with the development of the ‘New Sandton’ has seen the formwork and scaffolding solutions provider involved with 60% to 70% of all the major buildings in the premier business precinct since 2015, from full supply to specialised items.

“The combination of our products, customer relationships, and engineering expertise and solutions, as well as our important international engineering back-up when required, makes PERI a ‘go-to’ supplier,” Burwitz concludes.

PERI project team

Project technical support: William Ndou

Formwork concept and design: Chris Heesen, Sebastian Burwitz, and Stephen Sprong

Commercial: Billy van Straaten

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1 week 2 days ago
Dr Luyanda Mpahlwa has been inaugurated as President of the South African Institute of Architects (SAIA).

Incoming President of the South African Institute of Architects, Dr Luyanda Mpahlwa. (Photographer: Roxanne Abrahams)

Cape Town architect and urban designer, Dr Luyanda Mpahlwa was inaugurated as President of the South African Institute of Architects (SAIA) at an event held at the end of last at the Radisson Red Hotel in the V&A Waterfront, a building designed by his architectural firm, Design Space Africa, in association with Peerutin Architects. He accepted the chain of office from outgoing President Maryke Cronje.

In a moving acceptance speech Mpahlwa told of his pursuit of architecture against all odds, including a period of incarceration as a political prisoner on Robben Island and exile in Germany where he completed his studies, going on to become one of the first black architects in the country. The incoming president reflected on his 40 years involvement with architecture, and the challenges the country faced during apartheid, where the access to architecture and engineering careers was previously determined on racial grounds.

He rallied the gathered architecture community to acknowledge the challenges the profession faces and pledged to use his term in office to work hard at rebuilding the respect the profession deserves and encourage interest among young professionals. Mpahlwa said, ‘The architectural profession needs to be regarded as a key player within the built environment professions and architects need to play their role in reshaping the spatial dynamics of our country and our built environment in general’.

Further appointments were announced with the inauguration of Treasurer Jan Ras as well as Vice President Kate Otten and Cecilia van Rensburg as Deputy Treasurer.

The Inauguration was attended by a wide range of guests from the public and private sector and fraternal organisations. Speakers included Victor Miguel, President of Africa Union of Architects (AUA), Priscilla Mdlalose, CEO of the Council for Built Environment (CBE), Letsabisa Shongwe, President of South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP), Vusumuzi Nondo, Development Manager of the evening’s host and sponsor V&A Waterfront and Musa Shangase representing Corobrik, a long standing SAIA sponsors, who all voiced their ongoing support for SAIA and the South African architecture community at the event.

SAIA wishes to acknowledge the generous sponsorship received from the V&A Waterfront, Corobrik, and Gearhouse SA. Guests were entertained with a special performance by Zolani Mahola of Freshly Ground accompanied by David Watkyns, as well as a performance by reggae band The Rivertones.

The President’s Inauguration was the highlight of SAIA’s Architecture Week, a week of architectural celebrations in Cape Town including Architectural Open Studios, the Cape Institute for Architecture’s annual street party, and SAIA Convention.


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