We have no engineer to build your houses, official tells Kariega protesters

R334 blocked by shack dwellers for the second time in a month

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Police were called in after shack dwellers blocked the R334 with burning tyres on Tuesday morning. A truck driver was stopped and robbed. The protesters are demanding houses. Photos: Thamsanqa Mbovane

  • Shack dwellers living next to vandalised toilets in Kariega blocked the R334 for a second day on Tuesday.
  • They want houses to be built for them.
  • But assistant director of human settlements in the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality Rudi April told them the department has not had an engineer since February.

Shack dwellers in Kariega blocked the R334 on Tuesday morning for the second day in a row with burning tyres and rubble, demanding houses. But an official of the Nelson Mandela Bay municipal housing department told them the department does not have an engineer.

A truck driver was stopped and robbed on Tuesday.

The R334 Rocklands Road next to Area 11 informal settlement in Gunguluza, Kariega, was blocked for about four hours on Monday by 100 protesters, a month after their last protest.

They live next to 300 built toilets and want houses to be built there. They say they were relocated by the municipality in 2017 but still have no houses; the toilets have been vandalised and the sewerage system is faulty.

The shack dwellers include people with disabilities and former backyarders.

Nokuzola Mahlahla, one of the protesters, said on Monday she thought the municipality would fix the leaking sewage before the May elections. “They came and campaigned, but we are still living next to vandalised toilets,” she said.

Nokuzola Mahlahla says she has been living next to a vandalised toilet since 2017. She was one of the protesters who took to the streets on Monday.

Siphiwe Petela, a father of three who lives in a shack next to a toilet without a seat, said, “I arrived in 2017 from Taliban informal settlement which was declared a flood plain. When we arrived, there was no seat on my toilet. Some people bought themselves toilet seats, but the toilets don’t flush. We have to pour water to flush.”

“The municipality has been promising to build houses for us for years.”

As they blew whistles and sang songs on Rockland Road, ward councillor Sabelo Mabuda (ANC) arrived.

Mabuda told the crowd: “I don’t have answers. I have gone back to the meetings we had with the municipal officials, when we were promised on 24 May that a contractor would be introduced on 5 June. But that did not happen. Again, on 18 June, we were told in a meeting that we will get a new date as to when a contractor will be introduced.”

“On Friday last week, I was in a meeting with all the area committees of ward 45. This is when we realised that an engineer has been identified only for areas 5 and 9 … prompting this protest,” said Mabuda.

As he spoke, assistant director of human settlements Rudi April also arrived.

The police went to stand guard around him.

April said: “The councillor has been knocking on our doors and we have been part of his meetings. We had plans, but those plans were overtaken by the recent flood.”

He said the human settlements directorate has no engineer.

“Earlier this year, we had an engineer, but he resigned in February and went elsewhere where the grass is greener.” He said executive directors would have to come up with solutions.

The protesters say they will continue until houses are built.

TOPICS:  Housing Local government

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Write a letter in response to this article


Dear Editor

Why do they get everything for free? This is not right. I have to get up every day to provide for my family and work my ass off and still cannot afford my own house. They burn down and damage our land, yet get free housing. I say burn their houses down rather and make our roads safe for our people and save our lives. They don't have a soul that cares about the damage they cause or the hurt. I'm not a proud SA anymore, nor resident of Kariega.

Dear Editor

I can't comprehend how people can be so extremely spoilt. They want everything for free. Once they are given houses, they will want free electricity, free water and free groceries etc.

The poorest of the poor in Africa build their own houses, pay their way in life. Meanwhile some people in South Africa feel that they deserve things for free, while the rest pay fortunes for basic services in order to cover the freebies.

We hardworking citizens are taken for a ride while some sit on their backsides and demand things. We will see what happens when the income generating citizens leave the country. South Africa will turn into a real jungle.

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