Khayelitsha families rebuild shacks after botched relocation

The voluntary move has now cost the shack dwellers money, materials, and belongings

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Fourteen Khayelitsha families are rebuilding their shacks after a botched relocation by the City of Cape Town. Photos: Vincent Lali

  • The City of Cape Town attempted to relocate 14 families in Khayelitsha over the weekend in order to repair sewer pipes.
  • But the move was blocked by taxi operators, and other residents living next to the relocation site.
  • The families, who voluntarily dismantled their shacks, have lost money, food, and possessions due to the aborted relocation, and their building materials have been damaged.
  • They are now battling to rebuild on the original site.

Fourteen Khayelitsha families found themselves homeless last week after they agreed to dismantle their shacks and relocate. The City of Cape Town says it urgently needs to repair sewer pipes beneath their shacks. Now the families have had to rebuild their homes in the same place.

The families were to be moved from SST section of Town Two to vacant land nearby. But their arrival at the relocation site was blocked twice. First by the community of Green Point (Khayelitsha) and Qandu-Qandu on Saturday, who said the land is reserved as a temporary relocation site for them for when their RDP houses will be built. Then they were blocked, at an alternative adjacent site the City chose, by taxi operators on Sunday, who said it is reserved for a taxi rank.

Mayco Member for Human Settlements Carl Pophaim said 37 structures built on top of a sewer line were impacted by a sinkhole. The City was able to relocate ten of these families to an open space next to a clinic. Subsequently a further 48 structures were identified as needing to be also relocated in order for repairs to be made to the sewer pipes.

He said, “The City will now discuss the matter with the community of Green Point about the importance of helping the residents.”

Pophaim said the Green Point site had been identified by ward 93 Councillor Thando Pimpi (ANC).

Green Point SANCO leader Andile Diko confirmed Pimpi had made the request but said that after a meeting with shack dwellers it was rejected.

Asked why the relocation then went ahead, Pimpi said it was the City, not him relocating the people.

The botched relocation has come at a cost to the families. Nontsapho Matiso agreed to the move because her shack was near a sinkhole caused by the broken sewer pipes. Now she has been sleeping on the floor at her brother’s place since Saturday, and she has to hire handymen to rebuild her shack.

“I promised to pay them with my son’s child grant on the next grant day,” she said.

Her furniture, building materials, and the water tap she had connected inside her shack have all been damaged. She also lost her groceries in the move.

“I have been begging my neighbours for food since Saturday because no one gave us food,” said Matiso.

Nontsapho Matiso with food from her neighbour for the handymen rebuilding her shack.

Pamela Mqikela, a cook at an upmarket restaurant in the Waterfront, has been unable to go to work all week.

“I borrowed R2,000 from a loan shark to buy building nails, wooden planks, zincs and poles, and to pay and feed handymen who rebuilt my shack,” she said.

Her shack is not yet complete and she is renting a neighbour’s shack in the meantime.

Her children have had to be placed with her sister in Zwelitsha and are unable to go to school as their uniforms are packed together with other belongings beneath her building materials.

Pamela Mqikela has missed work all week because of the botched relocation.

Mzikazi Twani is unemployed and struggling to scrape together enough to pay handymen and buy materials. Her belongings, many of which were damaged, have been standing in the open air since Saturday.

“I don’t sleep at night in order to watch over my belongings,” she said.

The affected families also had their electricity boxes removed by Eskom, although some have now been returned.

Mzukhona Mthimkhulu and Vuyo Mbarhani rebuild Mzikazi Twani’s shack.

Councillor Pophaim said: “The City also arranged to provide soft relief until the matter is resolved,” but he failed to say what this entailed.

One person who had dismantled her shack told GroundUp the City had said it would only help them with building materials when they were relocated.

Nceba Enge, spokesperson for taxi association CODETA, said the City had agreed to the taxi rank and it was in the pipeline to start this year.

“We could not allow people to occupy the land because it would stagnate the project,” he said.

TOPICS:  Housing Land Local government Sanitation

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