Vrygrond: Mayor’s new proposal for housing

Land close to landfill could be used if tests show it is safe

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Photo of informal settlement
Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille met the Vrygrond Development Forum following land occupations and protests in the area. Photo: Thembela Ntongana

The City of Cape Town is to consider using new land in the Vrygrond area for housing, following discussions with the Vrygrond Development Forum after protests in the area.

The forum met Mayor Patricia de Lille on Tuesday to discuss possible solutions to concerns raised by members of the community following violent protests that have taken place in the area where the ward councillor’s car was also burnt.

This was the fourth meeting between the groups, attended by other councillors and City of Cape Town officials, according to the Mayor’s spokesperson Xolani Koyana. Koyana said the City had made previous proposals to the leadership forum which they have rejected.

One of the proposals was two pieces of land which had been rejected by the forum. Residents said they would prefer that land to be used to provide services that the areas does not have like a police station, clinic and a high school.

The land occupation started on 14 April and since then shacks have been demolished four times.

“The proposal tabled during last night’s meeting is the possible extension of a buffer zone between the residential area and a landfill site,” said Koyana on Wednesday.

“Freeing up some land there would enable the City to pursue housing development.”

But, he said, “the landfill site poses potential risks to human beings close to it due to the gas being extracted.” Tests would be required to establish whether the buffer zone could be extended and the City would have to submit an application to the provincial government.

“We are now waiting for the leadership to report back to the rest of the community and come back to the mayor,” said Koyana.

The chairperson of the forum, Michael Khumalo told GroundUp that City officials had said the tests might take up to a year. And then the boundary might not be moved, he said.

“They are making it sound like the people are moving towards the landfill site when in fact it is the landfill site that is moving closer to the community, because when we stayed in that very same piece of land years back the landfill site was not that close,” said Khumalo.

He said the forum had reported back to residents who had said they did not trust the tests which would be done “by the very same people who said the land is a nature reserve,” said Khumalo. City officials have previously said that the land which has been occupied is a nature reserve.

“The City can not be the players and the referee in this case,”

He said residents had asked the forum to write to the City asking why the landfill site could not be closed off or moved to allow people to build houses on the land

TOPICS:  Government Housing

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