Joe Slovo housing spat continues

| Daneel Knoetze
Joe Slovo resident Nomvula Msimanga and 55 of her neighbours are challenging Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela claims that they are not the rightful beneficiaries of houses at the N2 Gateway development. Photo by Daneel Knoetze.

Joe Slovo residents have accused Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela of changing the criteria for housing allocation at the last minute in order to deny them access to new houses. But Madikizela says even “approved” subsidy beneficiaries should not expect automatic allocation of houses.

On Wednesday residents were outraged at claims by Madikizela that they were “too young” and would not be prioritised for housing.

Madikizela had reprimanded the residents for packing their belongings, breaking down parts of their shacks and anticipating key handovers on Tuesday. He said they had not been given the go-ahead to do so, and slammed the Joe Slovo Task Team for having raised “false hopes” in the community.

He said younger people would not get houses.

It seems several younger people from the informal settlement did get subsidies for houses to be built in the new development, as long ago as 2011.

On Thursday GroundUp phoned the department and requested that identity numbers of four residents (aged between 23 and 30) be checked on the database for the housing development. In each case the staff member taking the call matched the names associated with the ID numbers and confirmed: “The beneficiary’s subsidy for a housing unit to be built at phase three of the N2 Gateway development in Langa was approved in 2011.”

But Madikizela said actual allocation of houses was done on a basis of need. Age is one of the criteria in establishing which beneficiaries should be prioritised.

“The database system requires that a particular housing development be attached to the approval of a subsidy,” he said.

“A particular beneficiary will not automatically be allocated a house at that development. It merely means that their details have been captured on the system. The most deserving approved beneficiaries will be allocated houses.”

Joe Slovo Task Team member Mzwanele Zulu said Madikizela was speaking out of turn.

“He was not part of the meeting (last week) at which the steering committee came to the decision, supported by members of the Housing Development Agency, to do the key handovers on Tuesday and Wednesday,” he said.

“Madikizela had always given us the commitment that all qualifying beneficiaries from Joe Slovo would get houses at the development. On Tuesday, for the first time did we hear this issue of age coming up. Instead of handing over keys, the HDA called an urgent meeting and apologised for having made a mistake and giving us false hope.”

The HDA is the body appointed by government to manage the building and handing over of units at the N2 Gateway development. GroundUp has sent queries to HDA spokeswoman Kate Shand. She promised to respond but had not done so at the time of going to publication.

Meanwhile, Ntombi Mpozolo, the wife of one of the beneficiaries, agreed that Madikizela had committed to key handovers for all qualifying residents. Mpozolo and 55 of her neighbours, all of whom claim to be legitimate beneficiaries of the new housing units, had started packing up and evacuating their shacks in anticipation of key handovers apparently scheduled for Tuesday. When no officials from the HDA or department arrived to hand over the keys, they slept outside to guard over their furniture and belongings. Now the residents threaten to stage a protest.

The informal settlement from which these 56 families come must be razed for the next phase of the development to be built. But the shackdwellers have vowed to resist any attempts to evict or relocate them, if they are not given access to the houses.

“The development will be stopped in its tracks. We are not moving anywhere, except for into those houses”, Mpozolo said.

TOPICS:  Housing Human Rights

Next:  Residents march for essential services

Previous:  Liebenberg’s argument is a straw man

© 2016 GroundUp. Creative Commons License
This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.