Housing MEC a no-show at meeting

Chairperson of the New Woodlands Ratepayers Association, Shahiem van Nelson, speaking to residents at the meeting.

New Woodlands residents waited in vain for Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela to attend their public meeting regarding the Southern Corridor development, but the department said Mr Madikizela hadn’t been scheduled to attend the meeting.

The meeting, held at a packed Northwood hall on Wednesday July 26, had been convened to discuss the Southern Corridor housing project for residents of Kosovo informal settlement (“Horns lock over housing”, Plainsman, July 19).

The housing project focuses on a number of informal settlements along the N2, of which Kosovo is one.

At the meeting, the second one held to discuss this matter, were members of the New Woodlands Ratepayers’ Association, Mitchell’s Plain United Residents’ Association (MURA), officials from the Human Settlements Department, Ward 75 councillor Joan Woodman and Sub-council 23 chairperson Elton Jansen.

Chairperson of the New Woodlands Ratepayers’ Association, Shahiem van Nelson, said throughout last week, residents had been protesting on the New Woodlands site which had been earmarked for the development.

“Firstly, residents have not been informed about the development, as it was presented in Sub-council 13 and not Sub-council 23. We have requested that the MEC be at the meeting today but he is not here to explain and address the people about the development,” he said.

“Residents of Mitchell’s Plain who have applied for housing and some who are backyard dwellers would like to know if they will be accommodated too.

“There are many questions that need to be answered and we are once again requesting that the MEC sees us,” he said.

Deputy chairperson of the Mitchell’s Plain United Residents’ Association (MURA), Michael Jacobs, said more housing meant more resources would be required. Elaborating on this, he said: “As we know there is already a challenge when it comes to crime in Mitchell’s Plain. How are you going to police with the addition to this area? We are not against the development, but instead how the process was done. (There was) no transparency and no consultation.”

Carol Cloete from the New Woodlands Block Committee said it was already a battle patrolling her area and asked for details of the safety plan for the new development.

“Just when you think you are going forward, you have to take a few steps back. Residents spend their time patrolling their areas and it
is already difficult, so how will this work?” she said.

Randall Lewis from New Woodlands said Mitchell’s Plain was already overpopulated and had many housing developments. “What about building houses in other areas such as the southern suburbs?” he said.

Other questions focused on property values and the construction of schools and clinics in the area.

The Kosovo informal settlement borders The Leagues and forms part of Ward 88, but was previously part of Ward 33. The land identified for the housing development is in New Woodlands, in Ward 75, which forms part of Sub-council 23.

Nathan Adriaanse, director of communications and stakeholder relations at the provincial Department of Human Settlements, said Mr Madikizela had not beeen scheduled to meet with residents on Wednesday.

“The department will work through the office of the MEC and the sub-council to determine when would be an appropriate time to arrange a visit for the MEC to meet with the New Woodlands Residents’ Association,” he said.

Mr Adriaanse said there was a housing backlog in excess of 570 000 in the province, but was unable to provide figures for Mitchell’s Plain specifically.

He added that there were currently 6 200 households at the Kosovo informal settlement, but not all of them would be accommodated at the Mitchell’s Plain development.

“We intend upgrading this informal settlement and once this is completed we will not be able to accommodate the entire 6 200 households in the area and hence we have identified other land parcels to accommodate the balance of the Kosovo residents.

“Of this figure (6 200) – we are only looking at approximately 800 households being accommodated in the New Woodlands area,” he said.