Delft shack dwellers march to Madikizela’s office to demand houses

Tsunami residents say promises have not been kept by the Western Cape MEC for Human Settlements

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Photo of march
Delft shack dwellers marched on Tuesday to the offices of the Western Cape human settlements department, demanding to be rehoused. Photo: Vincent Lali

Dozens of shack dwellers from Tsunami informal settlement in Delft marched to the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements in Cape Town on Tuesday to demand to be moved to RDP houses.

They sang, “We will move forward even if they shoot us”, and brandished placards. On one was written: “We need house subsidies.”

Community leader Kwanele Mcaleni said the marchers wanted to be relocated before the end of the month.

He said Western Cape MEC for Human Settlements Bonginkosi Madikizela had promised to relocate the shack dwellers at a meeting with community leaders held in Lentegeur in October last year.

The minister had promised to get the shack dwellers to sign applications for RDP houses in February this year, said Mcaleni. Madikizela had also made a commitment to relocate the shack dwellers to Forest Village in Mfuleni and sites within Delft in April this year, according to Mcaleni. But this had not been done.

The MEC’s office had not responded to GroundUp’s request for comment at the time of publication.

Mcaleni said about 1,725 households were already on the department’s database as they had applied for RDP houses. He said the department had promised that residents whose applications had not been approved would be sent to serviced sites while the government built roads and houses in Tsunami.

The shack dwellers also wanted the department to fence off the area, said Mcaleni.

“The enclosure would show land occupiers that the area is earmarked for development and prevent them from moving onto the land.”

Former backyarders continued to put up shacks on empty spaces in Tsunami, he said.

There were only 85 chemical toilets in the settlement, said Mcaleni.

Community leader Nopinki Mpahleni, who works as a janitor in Tsunami, said the shack dwellers wanted to move before the winter.

“We are afraid of winter as residents cause shack fires when they use paraffin stoves and home-made braziers to keep warm,” she said.

Mpahleni said janitors struggled to get water to clean toilets as water taps produced water intermittently. “We find the toilets messy all the time. Residents complain and say we don’t do our job.”

Residents woke up at 1am to queue for water from the taps, she said.

“We stand in long lines for water. Sometimes the water stops coming out while we are standing in the queue, and we go home with empty buckets.”

Shack dwellers had to resort to buying bread to eat because they could not cook without water.

Thanduxolo Ngomani hopes to move to an RDP house before the winter. His shack burned down five years ago when his neighbour left food cooking on a paraffin stove. Now he is afraid of more fires.

“When I work night shift while my kid is sleeping in my shack I worry about fires,” said Ngomani, who works as a security guard.

Zuko Minyela lives with his wife, his two children and a grandchild in a shack in Tsunami.

“I have to stuff plastic sheets between zincs to keep the rain water out,” he said. “Now I want an RDP house.”

Marcher Mirandi Sipayili shouted: “Politicians know us when they want our vote. Otherwise they don’t care about us.”

Kholeka Mdoda shares a shack with four children. “Two kids sleep on the floor and the other two sleep next to me on my bed, but we all share the bed when the shack is flooded,” she said.

Mdoda says she applied for an RDP house in 2007, but has not yet heard about the progress of her application.

The department’s stakeholder relations manager Mbongi Gubhuza received the shack dwellers’ memorandum of demands and said he would hand it to Madikizela.

TOPICS:  Government Housing

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