21 August 2008
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 »