AbM: Shack dwellers unite against move to areas far from cities

7 07 2008
Source: Sowetan

Making a point: QQ resident Mnikelo Ndabankulu speaks during a Khayelitsha shack dwellers meeting while Abahlali baseMjondolo Western Cape chairman Mzonke Poni looks on. Photo: Anna Majavu

A war of words has erupted between residents of a Khayelitsha informal settlement and the Western Cape local government because of plans to remove the shack dwellers from flood areas.

Residents of section QQ informal settlement in Khayelitsha launched a shack dwellers movement at the weekend to resist removals to areas far from the city.

“We want to unite informal settlements across South Africa against forced removals,” said newly elected Abahlali baseMjondolo Western Cape chairman Mzonke Poni.

Poni said the organisation was against the government’s plan to “de-densify” informal settlements without consulting communities.

“We want houses in the city, not houses in general,” Poni said. “When we are removed to the far corners of the city it leads to poverty.”

Vusumzi Tshose, spokesman for Western Cape MEC for local government and housing Richard Dyantyi, said the government would start negotiations with residents from QQ section to move them to allocated land “no matter where that land is”.

“Parts of QQ section are getting flooded on a daily basis and it is necessary for those people to move,” Tshose said.

More than 3000 people live in QQ section, a part of Khayelitsha with no roads, and only accessible by climbing a hill on foot. There are only eight taps and one toilet, which the community installed recently inside a crèche they built themselves.

Eunice Silwane has lived in QQ section for eight years, and says that she normally walks for 20 minutes, crossing a busy highway to a vacant piece of land to relieve herself.

City communications director Pieter Cronje said R1,3 million worth of chemical toilets have been ordered for Khayelitsha “but we can’t say when they will arrive”.

The Western Cape shack dwellers movement is part of the KwaZulu-Natal Abahlali baseMjondolo, which is legally opposing the KwaZulu-Natal government on the proposed elimination of slums.



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