Kariega shackdwellers threaten to move into housing project

Families are eyeing vacant sites with electricity

By Thamsanqa Mbovane

20 April 2023

Next to bungalows built during the Covid pandemic as part of a de-densification project, are empty sites with electricity poles. Shackdwellers living nearby want to move onto the sites. Photo: Thamsanqa Mbovane

About 160 electricity poles stand on vacant sites in Kariega, next to bungalows built during the Covid pandemic. Nearby, there are more than 3,000 shack dwellers hoping to move onto the land.

The poles have been up since 2021. The empty sites are part of Phase Four of a huge housing development in Area 11 in Kariega, which is to house thousands of families from all over Nelson Mandela Bay in 15 phases. During the Covid pandemic, 420 bungalows were built on the land as part of a de-densification programme to house elderly people and people with disabilities. A further 160 bungalows are to be built and the electricity has already been supplied.

The shackdwellers in Phase Two, nearby, want to live there. Their shacks are cold with no electricity connections, and they have been pleading with the municipality to relocate some of them to these 160 sites.

But the municipality has refused to do so, saying the shackdwellers had already invaded land in Phase Two in 2019.

“If the municipality doesn’t relocate us to the 160 vacant sites next to bungalows, which have electricity poles, we will invade them,” Area 11 community leader Siyabonga Stemele told Mayor Retief Odendaal at a meeting in the Gqeberha city hall on Tuesday.

He was part of a delegation of five people from Area 11.

But human settlements official Thembakazi Hlela said relocating 160 families to the sites would not solve the problem.

She said the land in Phase Two had been allocated to 970 beneficiaries from all over Kwa Nobuhle, “but there are now over 3,000 invaders.”

“The municipality is making Area 11 a waiting area,” ward councillor Sabelo Mabuda said.

Mayor Odendaal said, “We need to find a workable solution that is fair, that will not divide the community.”