Relocation of more than 880 families from Cape Town central railway line completed

PRASA says it can now recover infrastructure and restore train services

By Sandiso Phaliso

16 February 2024

People who occupied the railway line in Philippi and Nyanga, Cape Town, have been relocated to this site along Stock Road in Philippi East. Photos: Sandiso Phaliso

The temporary relocation of more than 880 families who illegally occupied the railway reserve in Philippi and Nyanga, Cape Town, has been completed.

Their shacks next to the Stock Road train station in Philippi East were on land owned by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA).

People had settled on the railway line and rail reserve during the Covid lockdown in 2020, when many could no longer afford to pay rent as backyarders. Trains had already stopped running on the line in October 2019 because of theft and vandalism.

The Central Line has been partially cleared up to Nyanga station, with the latest relocation, which began in December, as part of the plan to reinstate the remainder of the line – to Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha.

At the temporary Stock Road site, the City of Cape Town has provided basic services such as water and portable toilets. But residents have been complaining that there aren’t enough toilets and the supply of water unreliable.

They have to fetch water for drinking and cooking at neighbouring suburbs Acacia and Heinz Park, or go further to informal settlements with standpipes.

Thandekile Mncwango said, “We believe we have been dumped here, ignored and not taken care of.”

Anelisa Tembani says she walks about 500 metres to collect water with her 20-litre bucket.

PRASA spokesperson Andiswa Makanda told GroundUp on Thursday: “The relocated households will allow PRASA to recover the infrastructure and restore services from Nyanga to Chris Hani [in Khayelitsha].”

Makanda said that because the relocation site is temporary, the households will later be moved to a permanent site “once the statutory processes have been finalised”.

She said security personnel guarding the railway site will remain “for the foreseeable future” to prevent any possible unauthorised occupation.

On the permanent relocation of 1,251 households occupying rail reserves in Langa to the Weltevreden site in Mitchells Plain, Makanda said this was dependent on the outcome of the rezoning application submitted to the City.

The public were given an opportunity to comment on the application and now it is up to PRASA to respond and explain its position on each of the comments. Once PRASA has made its submissions to the City on these, the Municipal Planning Tribunal will make a final ruling on the applications, said Makanda.