City flooded with more than 900 comments over relocation of railway occupiers

Once the rail agency responds to these comments, a report will be sent to the Municipal Planning Tribunal for a final decision

By Sandiso Phaliso

25 January 2024

Mitchells Plain residents objecting to PRASA’s application to relocate railway occupiers to their area. Archive photo: Sandiso Phaliso

More than 900 comments have been submitted to the City of Cape Town applications to rezone two parcels of land earmarked for housing near Weltevreden Road in Philippi.

The parcels of land are to be used to permanently relocate people in thousands of shacks who settled on the railway line and rail reserve in Langa, Nyanga, and Philippi during the Covid lockdown in 2020. Many moved there because they could no longer afford to pay rent as backyarders.

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) has already relocated hundreds of these families to temporary housing on land near Stock Road train station in Philippi East.

PRASA has said that the permanent relocation to the Weltevreden site is dependent on the outcome of the rezoning application submitted to the City of Cape Town.

The two portions of land identified for their permanent relocation is known as the Philippi Wedge which is adjacent to the Mitchells Plain suburbs of Woodlands and Weltevreden Valley.

In November, GroundUp reported on a protest by a group of Mitchells Plain residents led by members of the National Coloured Congress who claimed that they were not consulted and strongly objected to the railway occupiers being relocated to the area.

This week we spoke to Angelique Adams, an activist from Mitchells Plain, who is among those who made submissions opposing the occupier’s being moved to the area. She also attended a community meeting at the Rocklands Civic Centre on 8 November 2023 where emotions ran high as irate residents voiced their concerns with the shack dwellers being moved to land near their homes.

“Already there are no services for the two informal settlements in this area and now they want to bring another informal settlement, it’s crazy.

“There are no schools and basic services where they plan to dump these people,” said Adams.

The period for public comment was between 20 October and 27 November 2023.

Now that the public have been given an opportunity to comment on the application, it is up to PRASA to respond and explain its position on each of the comments submitted to the City.

PRASA, through the Housing Development Agency (HDA), acquired these parcels of land from a private owner, and submitted applications for the erfs to be changed from its current Agricultural zoning to Single Residential zoning.

Once PRASA has made its submissions to the City on the public comments, the City of Cape Town’s Municipal Planning Tribunal will make a final ruling on the applications.

Eddie Andrews, deputy mayor and Mayco Member for Spatial Planning and Environment, confirmed that a total of 925 submissions have been received to date.

Andrews told GroundUp that most of the comments for and against the applications are yet to be analysed. “This will be done once the Case Officer starts drafting the reports to be submitted to the Municipal Planning Tribunal.”

“Only once the applicant (PRASA) has responded, will the City’s Case Officer be in a position to start drafting reports for submission to the Municipal Planning Tribunal. No date can be provided as to when the reports are expected,” said Andrews.

PRASA spokesperson Andiswa Makanda said, “We can only give comment once we receive final outcome of the application from the City.”