Housing: ‘We can do it ourselves’

Mitchell’s Plain United Residents’ Association deputy chairman Michael Jacobs flanked by chairman Norman Jantjes and public relations officer Alex Lawrence.

Mitchell’s Plain residents have the desire and the ability to build their own houses, a civic meeting heard on Saturday.

“Our people have the ability to build,” said New Woodlands contractor Ganief Starenburg at the meeting held by the Mitchell’s Plain United Residents’ Association (Mura) to discuss the City’s shelving of the Beacon Valley Housing Project (“‘Construction mafia’ delay housing project,” Plainsman May 24).

“The contractors are not interested in the project because they are scared of the gangsters,” said Mr Starenburg. “I teach youth to build and plaster. We can do it ourselves. We can build more houses with the profits.”

The Beacon Valley housing project for more than 1800 homes was put on ice because it would cost more than a third of the R95-million budget just to protect the construction site, a sub-council meeting heard last month.

The project, located on Highlands Drive, Morgenster and Swartklip roads, was due to provide affordable housing opportunities, but it has been stalled by violence and intimidation on site.

Two years ago, it was hit by four separate shooting incidents and two petrol bombings of construction machinery (“Violence halts construction of houses,” Plainsman July 14, 2021).

Mura deputy chairman Michael Jacobs said: “Our people have the skills and the knowledge to build houses from the ground up, lay the foundation and infrastructure, but they don’t have the paperwork.”

He proposed that contracts stipulate the need for labourers to be assessed; be connected to an institution; be part of the project; be recognised for prior learning; and, upon completion of the project, be recognised for their work with a certificate.

Mr Jacobs said they would hold public meetings on housing to gauge community needs and develop a broader plan.

“We will look at engaging with the City of Cape Town on these collective demands,” he said.

Bronvin Kastoor, from G4Developers, a non-profit company, said backyarders were treated without dignity and respect by their landlords. Electricity was switched off, rates bills were not being paid and many of the backyarders were unemployed.

Almondt van der Schyff, from Colorado Park, asked what constituted a house. He suggested different shapes for homes, including a “rondavel“, and added that old-age homes should also be a priority.

Mr Jacobs said they planned to hold information sessions on housing subsidies and a range of other housing-related issues.