Gateway housing project in a shambles

23 11 2008
Bobby Jordan
Published:Nov 23, 2008
Source: The Times

Only five families out of an estimated 20000 shack dwellers from one of South Africa’s poorest settlements have been accommodated at the state’s flagship housing development built on their doorstep.

Meant to showcase the country’s progressive housing policy promoting racially integrated cities, phase one of the N2 Gateway project next to the Joe Slovo shack settlement in Cape Town is instead a monument to a losing battle against the national housing backlog.


EMPTY PROMISES: The N2 Gateway project in Cape Town has not delivered what it promised for thousands of shack dwellers Picture: ALON SKUY

More than 1000 families from Joe Slovo have been relocated to make way for the housing project, which to date consists of only 704 state rental apartments costing R600 to R1050 a month and about 3500 free houses 10km away in Delft on the outskirts of the city. This despite the government’s promise of 20000 free state Gateway houses by 2006.

The relocated shack dwellers now live in the new Delft houses or in under-serviced “temporary relocation areas”.

The remaining shack dwellers — about 3000 families — are challenging a High Court ruling ordering them to move to Delft so more free houses can be built where their shacks stand.

Construction of “bond market” houses has already begun for people earning between R3500 to R10000 a month next to Joe Slovo settlement.

Shack dwellers say they are being forced off their land without any guarantee of getting a new house. Read the rest of this entry »

Media: Developments need to be based on partnerships

20 11 2008
Without government and communities working together, even the best-intentioned projects can do more harm than good
November 19, 2008 Edition 1
Imraan Buccus - The Mercury

NATIONAL attention remains fixed on the unlovely aftermath of Polokwane and the new political party, Congress of the People (Cope). Read the rest of this entry »

Western Cape AEC in Durban for shack-fire summit, alliance meeting, and to support comrades at Foreman Rd who are being subject to illegal demolitions

21 09 2008

Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign Press Statement

September 21, 2008


No more fires!  No more evictions! 

The poor assert their right to the city!


Elokshini eKapa – As the AEC heads to Durban this weekend for an important alliance meeting and Shack Fire Summit with Abahlali BaseMjondolo (AbM), the residents of Foreman Rd are resisting the opportunistic illegal demolition of their homes by government after they experienced one of the most devastating fires of any informal settlement in the last few years.


Over 70% of the settlement burned down only a few days ago.  That’s over 1,000 families who have lost everything they own.  Abahlali baseMjondolo holds government’s armed de-electrification program responsible for all shack fires, deaths from shack fires, and burnt property in their settlements. 


But instead of helping residents, the government has used this disaster as an opportunity to destroy the remaining shacks and forcibly remove all residents to “Temporary” Relocation Areas (TRAs).


The Anti-Eviction Campaign knows this tactic all too well.  In Joe Slovo, thousands of residents were removed to TRAs in Delft a few years ago when a big fire destroyed their homes.  They are still stuck in these barren, unhealthy, asbestos and crime-ridden camps.  Lindiwe Sisulu and her cronies are now trying to evict the rest of the Joe Slovo residents (almost 20,000) to the same TRAs in Delft – as though the previous evictions were proven successful.  But Joe Slovo residents say asiyi eDelft - they vow never to go to Delft.


Now, the government is also attempting to obtain a court order to evict the Pavement Dwellers of Symphony Way to another TRA in Delft (this one looks like a refugee camp with police controlling entry and enforcing a curfew for all occupants).  But the Pavement Dwellers, who have already been evicted once this year, refuse to go anywhere but into a house.  They vow to sleep on Symphony Rd in the rain if bulldozers come to break down their shacks.


Other AEC affiliated communities are facing similar threats of evictions into the TRAs but every single one of them is attempting to resist.  They know if they move there, they may be stuck in these government shacks forever.


In Durban, the AEC and AbM will also be having an important alliance meeting that will possibly introduce two more independent social movements into our Action Alliance (our national social movement alliance which challenges our oppressors when they act without a mandate from the people.


So, as the AEC heads to the first ever people’s Shack Fire Summit that is to be held in the ashes of Foreman Rd, we would like to remind the following to anyone interested in building a just world:


1)   Even though we are poor, we are not stupid!  We are the experts of our own communities.  Only we can put an end to poverty.

2)   Talk to us, not for us!  We do not give any politician the mandate to speak on our behalf.  We can speak for ourselves.

3)   Aluta Continua!  The people will continue to fight for our constitutional right to houses, to electricity, and other services. Everyone’s basic needs must be met. 

4)   Outlaw all evictions now!  Land is not property.  Land is not a commodity.  Land shall be shared by those who live on it.


Qina Mhlali! Qina!  In solidarity with Foreman Rd and poor people anywhere and everywhere,


The Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign


For more information, please contact any of our coordinators:


Ashraf Cassiem -

Mncedisi Twala -

Pamela Beukes -

Mzonke Poni -

Gary Hartzenberg -

Willie Heyn -

Jane Roberts -

Media: South Africans protest mass eviction order in court

10 09 2008

10th of September, 2008
By Toussaint Losier
Source: Bay State Banner

Residents of the informal Joe Slovo settlement and their supporters protest outside of the South African Constitutional Court in Johannesburg, South Africa. Those who gathered called on the court’s nine judges to overturn a controversial eviction order that would see all residents of the settlement forcibly removed from a township where many have lived for more than 15 years. (Toussaint Losier photo)

Residents of Joe Slovo and Delft Symphony Way, two informal settlements located in Cape Town, South Africa, pause and call for support during their train ride back from Johannesburg, where they protested the eviction order. (Toussaint Losier photo)

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Dancing the toyi-toyi, stomping their feet and singing protest songs, more than 100 residents of the informal Joe Slovo settlement in Cape Town and their supporters rallied outside of South Africa’s Constitutional Court last month in support of the community’s right to adequate housing.

Nearly all had traveled 28 hours by train to attend the hearing concerning the future of their community.

Inside the courtroom, their lawyers called upon the court’s nine judges to overturn a controversial eviction order that would have seen all residents of the settlement forcibly removed from the township of Langa, where many have been living for more than 15 years.

Read the rest of this entry »

Pictures and Video: Backyard dwellers march on MEC’s home

8 09 2008

Media: Building connections between the N2 Gateway and the Cornubia development

27 08 2008
Opinion: The social value of land must come first
August 27, 2008 Edition 1
Imraan Buccus

There has been considerable discussion after the announcement that the eThekwini Municipality is considering expropriating land from Tongaat-Hulett to finally move ahead with the long promised Cornubia development.

We all know that in Durban, as in cities around the country, the question of housing is the biggest source of conflict between poor people’s organisations and the state.

There have been thousands of protests since 2005, with many of them resulting in serious police violence. Read the rest of this entry »

The APF supports the Joe Slovo Residents Constitutional Court appeal

25 08 2008
Thursday 21st August 2008


Today, members of the Anti Privatisation Forum (APF) joined hundreds of Joe Slovo and Inner-City Resource Centre residents at the Constitutional Court, where their appeal against High Court Judge Hlophe’s eviction order was heard. The imminent threat of mass eviction (and forcible removal to Delft) is a direct result of the top-down, anti-democratic manner in which the Ministry of Housing (and their principal agents, Thubelisha Homes) have pursued the provision/development of housing for poor communities in Cape Town, with specific reference to the N2 Gateway Housing Project. The continued failure - both in Cape Town and across the country – of government and their designated ‘development’ agents to fulfil their long-repeated promises of affordable, quality formal housing for those living in ‘informal settlements’ is at the root of the Joe Slovo crisis, as it is for millions of others. Read the rest of this entry »

List of Mainstream News on Joe Slovo Constitution Court Ruling

25 08 2008

Below is a list of recent articles about the Joe Slovo Constitutional Court case.

Concourt’s initiatial comments about the case:

News on journey and protest at the Constitutional Court in Joburg:

Media: Concourt lashes Hlophe’s squatter ruling

25 08 2008

The Constitutional Court’s battle with Cape Judge President John Hlophe did nothing to dampen the justices’ criticism of his landmark eviction order against 20 000 Western Cape squatters.

Justice Kate O’Regan on Thursday expressed disquiet over Judge Hlophe’s controversial order that the residents of the Joe Slovo informal settlement be moved to make way for government’s pilot N2 Gateway Housing Project, pointing out that it made no mention of where they would be moved to.

“It’s one of the things that really bothers me … I couldn’t imagine an order for eviction that didn’t set out where and how the respondents would be accommodated,” she said.

She added that Judge Hlophe’s order gave no sense of the process the state would follow in relocating the informal settlement dwellers, many of whom took trains from Cape Town to attend Thursday’s hearing.

The comments came just one day after the hearing of Judge Hlophe’s acrimonious legal wrangle with South Africa’s highest court, in which he sought to have their public accusations that he attempted to lobby two of them for pro-Jacob Zuma rulings declared unconstitutional.

O’Regan and her fellow justices on Thursday repeatedly urged lawyers for the government, its housing agency and the squatters to work together to compile a draft order, replacing that given by Judge Hlophe and detailing how government would move the squatters “fairly and openly”, within the next week.

Counsel for Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, Michael Donen SC, responded positively to the court’s proposal of a negotiated settlement order.

Justice Zac Yacoob said such a settlement order should place obligations on the state to say where exactly the squatters would be moved to and what conditions they would stay under. Read the rest of this entry »

Media: ‘There is no way I’ll go to starve and die in Delft’

25 08 2008
21 August 2008
Anna Majavu
Source: Sowetan

This morning an important case comes before the Constitutional Court, involving 20,000 Cape Town residents whose informal settlement is set to be bulldozed.

State-owned company Thubelisha Homes (now bankrupt), Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and Western Cape housing MEC were granted an eviction order on March 10 this year against occupants of the Joe Slovo informal settlement in Langa.

They argued that the residents must be moved to fibre-cement shacks in a “temporary relocation area” in Delft, about 20km away from the city. They said this was necessary so that they could continue building houses as part of the N2 Gateway housing programme. After the houses were built, they said, they would move the residents back.

The community quickly established though that most residents would be left in Delft, a place many describe as “God-forsaken”, which has no rail service, where crime is rife, schools are overcrowded and medical facilities dire. Delft is also not close to any suburb where people might find work.

Housing ministry spokesman Xolani Xundu agreed that “not everyone will come back” to Langa.

He told Sowetan that 1500 families will get free houses in Langa, and 45 bonded houses will be sold to the public. The bonded houses are unaffordable to 99 percent of the residents who are unemployed. And the community of 5000 families said they did not want 3500 families to be left behind in Delft’s temporary relocation area.

Joe Slovo task team leader Mzwanele Zulu said that all the families could be accommodated if the government built RDP houses or if they worked with the people to come up with a plan that suited everybody.

Xundu said: “People who did not relocate back to Langa would be housed in Delft. They would not be left in the lurch in the temporary relocation area.”

But these claims were contradicted by Ashraf Cassiem of the Delft Anti-Eviction Campaign.

He said that hundreds of people who voluntarily relocated to Delft from Khayelitsha were still languishing in the temporary relocation area seven years later.

Leon Goliath, a civil engineer at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, found that the temporary relocation area was “unfit for human habitation”.  Goliath said the roofs of the temporary dwellings did not connect with the walls and the gaps “led to leaks and drafts, which was not good for health … and could be a fire hazard”.

He said that windows and doors did not have frames and residents have been forced to secure them to the walls with concrete.  “These chunks of concrete could fall off and injure someone. Without proper frames, how do you lock and secure your dwelling?” Goliath asked.

He also found traces of asbestos in the fibre-cement material. Read the rest of this entry »