A heated meeting had to be adjourned twice after residents demanded answers for the Central line issue at the Rocklands civic centre last week.
The meeting on Wednesday November 8, was held to “honour the commitment made” at the last public meeting about the proposed relocation of railway squatters to a wedge of land in Weltevreden, called the Philippi Wedge, said sub-council 17 chairperson and ward 43 councillor, Elton Jansen.
Over 5 000 people are occupying the train tracks on the Central Railway Line between Langa and Philippi stations. (“Commuters need rail services back on track”, February 16, 2022; “Plain residents against railway squatters”, September 7, 2022; “Councillors not in support of relocation”, September 22, 2022).
Mr Jansen said the purpose of the meeting was to explain to residents how to submit comments on the proposal and public participation forms were made available at the meeting.
The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) and the Housing Development Agency (HDA) have submitted the rezoning application, said Mr Jansen. PRASA and the HDA did not attend the meeting nor did they comment by the time of going to print.
Mr Jansen said he does not support the application because the Philippi wedge is not suitable as a temporary relocation site.
“Relocating people to these sites will be against the City’s Municipal Spatial Development Framework (MSDF) which encourages mixed-used development and not informal settlements,” he said.
“There are currently existing informal settlements in close proximity, with no services. Creating a new informal settlement with services will create tension between the existing settlements. We cannot afford Jakes Gerwel to be blocked because of unhappy informal settlement dwellers, as we’ve seen so many times during protest action in the past,” he said.
The Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA) has only two schools, which are full, and there are no recreation facilities and amenities, he said.
“Crime in the area is at an all-time high, with very little to no SAPS visibility. Vandalism and illegal electricity connections in this area is increasing which is a big problem that is negatively affecting the PHA’s agricultural activity,” he said. “Relocating more people to the wedge, to an informal settlement, jeopardises the agricultural business in PHA.”
During the question and answer session residents exploded with angry outbursts and the meeting had to be adjourned.
Westgate resident, Maliek Stemmet, said he’d spent two weeks sending comments and objections to the contact details provided on social media.
“This process wasn’t right from the word go,” he said. “Mr Jansen has highlighted that this act rewards criminality. I find it mind boggling that you’d consider an application for a squatter camp. It should be dismissed. We shouldn’t even be discussing this.”
Cape Coloured Congress leader, Fadiel Adams, said the DA didn’t take into consideration “our comments”.
“Everyone in front (ward councillors) said they were steadfast against the matter. This issue is not their consideration,” he said.
“This decision was made long before when they came to Mitchell’s Plain, we were an afterthought. The problem we have with all of this is in 2024 there will be an election and they can’t tell us this now. By the time we come back to this meeting, it will be a done deal,” he said.
Bayview resident, Louisa Jaftha, became angry and disrupted the meeting.
She said: “Ons is moeg. Hoeveel keer het hulle gesien ons is in die mayor se office vir huise vir onse mense. Die mense sterve van wag. Dit was hartseer om te sien. Die vrou was saam met ons by die high court die next dag is daai vrou dood.”
“Tagtige jarige mense, wat meer as 40 jaar op ‘n waiting list is, ons is moeg. Die mense hier agter my (ward councillors), they are not doing their jobs. People it is by time we rise up,” said Ms Jaftha.
Michael Jacobs of the Mitchell’s Plain United Residents Association (MURA) said the meeting was a disappointment and there was no need to stop the meeting prematurely.
“We all knew it was going to be a heated affair. MURA will make an informed input based on the relevant facts at our disposal,” he said adding that the Philippi Wedge was not the ideal location. “However, we will further engage with other roleplayers.“
The deadline for comments is Monday November 27. Submissions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or at the sub-council office in Lentegeur.