Media: Delft squatters to get houses

17 01 2009

January 09, 2009 Edition 2
Francis Hweshe
Source: Cape Argus

More than 100 families who have been living on the pavement in Symphony Way in Delft for nearly a year are set to be screened for housing allocation, the housing department has said.

The frustrated families, who have weathered rain and cold weather on the pavement approached the department on Wednesday, requesting it to follow through on promises it made last year to allocate houses to them.

The Department of Housing deputy director-general, Mbulelo Tshangana, said they had been engaging with the families since last year after they “illegally invaded houses in Delft”.

“We are going to look at the list and see who qualifies for the N2 Gateway housing project, because not all of them qualify,” said Tshangana.

Last year five of the families received houses, but in solidarity with those still living on the pavement they have not moved in until they are all given houses.

Tshangana said the Delft people were not going to be housed unless “proper criteria are followed”.

“The key point is that we must not encourage people to jump the queue because that would force everybody to do the same,” said Tshangana.

He said that after determining beneficiaries, it would then be decided whether they should be accommodated “this financial year or the next”.

Tshangana said that the department was scheduled for a meeting with the community next week.

Ashraf Cassiem, a spokesman for the Anti-Eviction Campaign and the families, said they acknowledged the illegal occupation of houses, but were now negotiating in good faith with authorities for the residents’ right to better shelter.

Promises were made but had not been followed through, said Cassiem.

The residents who had spent 11 months without proper shelter were increasingly getting impatient, said Cassiem.

The province is currently facing a housing backlog of more than 400 000, with some having been on the housing list for more than 20 years.

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