City removes occupiers from land earmarked for housing

“Where are we supposed to get the money to pay rent?”

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Some residents from Nyakathisa informal settlements in Khayelitsha, Cape Town attempted to occupy land next to the settlement but were stopped by the City’s Anti-Land Invasion Unit at the weekend. Photo: Buziwe Nocuze

“Where are we supposed to get the money to pay rent? The only solution we had was to invade this space,” says Chuma Funda from Nyakathisa informal settlement in Khayelitsha, Cape Town.

The 38-year-old was among a group of residents whose attempt to occupy land next to the settlement was stopped by the City’s Anti-Land Invasion Unit at the weekend.

Funda says some of the people began building homes on the land had been chased away by their landlords because they could no longer afford to pay rent.

“All we want is for the City to bring back our material. Most of us are not working. Taking our material is evil because we don’t have money to buy more,” she says.

Another resident Mongezi Funda says: “Our belongings were damaged. How are we supposed to get money to buy other things because the lockdown is making things difficult for all of us. They must bring back our material.”

Community leader, Siyanda Nodada says most families living in Nyakathisa have been there for more than ten years. They were promised that the vacant space would be used to build them houses, she says. “We decided to use the open space because we don’t have money to rent and we have been waiting to get houses for too long. The councillor promised us that by 2020 we will be staying in our houses.”

“We were told that our councillor sold us out and contacted the City informing them about what we were doing. That alone shows that he lied to us about getting houses soon,” says Nodada.

Ward councillor Zwelijikile Simbeku confirmed that he had informed the City about the occupation as the land has been earmarked to build houses for backyarders from the area.

“It is my duty to report such things. If I had let them build their shacks, what was going to happen to the backyarders who know the space is reserved to build their houses?”

Simbeku said he would accompany community leaders to speak to the landlords where residents are unable to pay rent during the lockdown.

Mayco Member for Human Settlements, Malusi Booi said the City’s Anti-Land invasion Unit only removed unoccupied and incomplete structures in line with the law and based on advice from legal professionals. “The City will continue to remove unoccupied and illegal structures to prevent the illegal occupation of land. When land is invaded or when attempts are made to occupy land, we move backward rather than forward,” he said.

“This is especially important in light of the enormous increase in land invasions across the metro over the past months. Numerous newly established communities are demanding services but currently the City is unable to cater for these unplanned settlements as existing recognised informal settlements are prioritised based on available resources,” said Booi.

TOPICS:  Covid-19 Housing

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