Housing plans marred by ‘mistrust’

Strandfontein residents and ratepayers at a City of Cape Town public engagement meeting.

At a meeting held last week, the City acknowledged that the relationship between Strandfontein residents and ratepayers; and the municipality was characterised by mistrust.

However, said district manager for housing implementation Cecilia Thiem, the City wanted to build a relationship with the community to address their needs and concerns

Ms Thiem was responded to questions and comments tabled during a public meeting at the community hall in Cruiser Street on Wednesday July 13. It had been convened to discuss draft framework plan for erf 1212 in Strandfontein, where the City planned to build 750 houses.

When one of the residents asked whether the City had a “plan B” if they did not get the community’s support to build the houses, Ms Thiem said feedback showed there was need for housing and that is what the municipality would like to address.

But former Strandfontein Residents and Ratepayers’ Association executive member Quinton Griffiths warned residents of the informal settlements on Erf 1212, to “be careful of the lies”.

“Do not be fooled by the carrot that they (the City) are dangling in front of you,” he said.

Elaborating on this, association chairman Mario Oostendurp said that most of the residents of the informal settlement did not qualify for housing and were not on the housing waiting list.

He said existing schools, clinics and the police station would not be able to handle increased capacity and that a lack of economic hubs was cause for concern.

Mr Oostendurp wants confirmation that existing residents of Strandfontein informal settlements and backyard dwellers would have first claim to the proposed housing development.

Sewende Laan informal settlement resident Maria Amos said she had been raised in the informal settlement and was now raising her children, whom she would like to give the opportunity of living in a house.

“We are also human so why must we be moved from where we live, to somewhere else?” she asked.

Ms Thiem said housing was about human dignity and formalising informal services, including roads, sewers, stormwater and electricity, and avoiding illegal connections.

“There is proof that the title deed can offer people security and prevent eviction, which happens in backyard dweller cases,” she said.

Ward 43 councillor Elton Jansen said in principal he was not against the housing project but that there were a lot of questions and concerns that needed to be addressed.

He assured those present that nothing was set in stone and that these were just discussion forums.

Mr Jansen also encouraged the establishment of a project steering committee, who would raise concerns and ensure the interests of the community were addressed.

Walied Adams, from Ratepayers Forum and Economic Development (RAFED), incorporating Bayview and surrounding areas, said: “We need housing in this area” and called for the issue of informal settlements to be “sorted”.

“We need a steering committee where all of these nitty gritties, which we are fighting now, can be sorted. There is a process how the City must work and how we as a community must work,” he said.

The proposal includes houses which start at 40 square metres on a plot of 75 square metres, which would enable property owners to extend their breaking new ground house to accommodate their growing families.

Mr Adams added that one of the positives was that the housing development would create jobs.

“Infrastructure must be built and we must start somewhere. Let’s concentrate on the housing and then build from there,” he said.