Wallacedene shack dwellers close down housing project

City of Cape Town says project should not target one specific community only

By Vincent Lali

Photo of protesters
Wallacedene residents are demanding to be prioritised for a housing project. Photo: Vincent Lali

Dozens of angry shack dwellers who live in a Temporary Relocation Area (TRA) in Wallacedene marched to Kraaifontein police station to deliver a memorandum of demands to the City of Cape Town on Monday. Community leader Thembelani Mzola handed over a memorandum to Acting Subcouncil Two Manager Amelia van Rhyn. Marchers toyi-toyied and held placards that read: “We want houses” and “We want answers today or no Maroela Project”.

According to Mayoral Committee Member for Urban Development, Councillor Brett Herron, the Maroela housing project is a breaking new ground (BNG) state-subsidised housing project for beneficiaries registered on the City’s housing database.

But the protesters want the Maroela project exclusively for residents of TRA informal settlement.

Herron said about 20% of the houses will be allocated to people from other areas who have been on the City’s housing database the longest. “The Maroela Housing project is not intended to benefit one specific community or group. Instead, the purpose of this project is to accommodate as many beneficiaries as possible who have been registered on the City’s housing database.”

Construction on the Maroela housing project started on 27 September but was forced to stop on 1 October by the shack dwellers.

“If the City ignores our demand, we will shut down the project for good,” said Mzola.

“We want the housing project to cater only for residents of TRA because they have been waiting for houses for too long … We don’t want residents from outside Wallacedene to get houses from the project,” said Mzola.

“We live under inhumane conditions,” he said. “Some residents settled in the TRA about 13 years ago and the City told them that they would be moved to somewhere dry, but they are still staying in waterlogged shacks.”

He said a dozen shack dwellers shared a toilet and the City had not cleaned the toilets for almost a year.

Chairperson of Wallacedene policing forum Mawethu Sila said, “As long as the City doesn’t involve the shack dwellers in decision making, they will protest … The City must first deal with the overcrowding before it brings people from outside.”

But Herron said, “The project steering committee for the Maroela housing project was [democratically] elected at two public meetings held on 8 December 2015 and 30 June 2016.”

Receiving the memorandum, Van Rhyn said the project steering committee and project officials would discuss the shack dwellers’ demands.

Herron said, “We cannot allow a situation where certain residents get access to housing opportunities at the cost of those who have been waiting for years for the very same housing opportunity.”

“The purpose of the City’s housing database is to ensure that housing opportunities are made available in a fair, transparent, systematic, and equitable manner, and in accordance with our housing allocation policy to ensure that no one jumps the queue.


Published originally on GroundUp .

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