Land parcels identified for development

Isiqalo steering committee members Thelma Tshabile, Luvuyo Booi and David Mpofu, discuss housing with Mitchells Plain steering committee member, Pastor Dean Ramjoomia and member of the Concerned Clergy of Cape Town, Owen Hendricks from Mitchells Plain Pastors Forum.

Representatives of Mitchell’s Plain and Isiqalo informal settlement finally sat at the same table with local and provincial government officials to discuss housing.

The meeting, which took place on Friday June 8, at the sub-council office in Lentegeur, came six weeks after days of violent protests and meetings with Human Settlements MEC, Bonginkosi Madikizela.

Last week’s meeting got off to a rocky start as all the parties were aggrieved that it took six weeks to get together and then disputed who had called the meeting.

Representatives of each community submitted names of people, who would be serving on a steering committee tasked with working with government departments to plan a housing project.

About 90 minutes into the meeting, Isiqalo informal settlement resident, David Mpofu, said concerns about a floodlight to improve safety and security in the settlement had not been addressed; and asked whether the MEC had met with property owners Robert Ross Demolishers and Lyton Props.

Department deputy director Eric Nontshiza, who chaired the meeting, however, said the meeting with the property owners was irrelevant, calling for those present to stick to the agenda the department had for the meeting.

Rehana Tiry, provincial Human Settlements regional director for the West Coast, City of Cape Town and Peoples Housing Process (PHP), apologised, explaining that she had misunderstood that the informal settlement needed lighting, following the meeting with the MEC last month.

The meeting also heard that the department had identified parcels of land in the area which were suitable for housing development.

Valuations were done and sale agreements are in process.

Ms Tiry said the department and the City would investigate options to electrify the site to improve security measures for the settlement.

Discussions around various housing options are due to take place next weekend.

The protests at the Philippi informal settlement, along Jakes Gerwel Drive between the R300 and Highlands Drive, started late on Tuesday May 1 because the City of Cape Town had not responded to a letter demanding service delivery to the settlement, which is on privately-owned land.

The protest turned violent when it spilled onto Highlands Drive and protesters started looting an ATM at the petrol station and burnt a fruit and vegetable stall to the ground. Residents retaliated by throwing stones at the protesters and shots were fired.

On Wednesday May 2, traffic services closed off sections of Jakes Gerwel Drive and the roads leading into it, for several hours, causing severe traffic congestion in and out of Mitchell’s Plain. That night the violence flared up again and several residents were injured during scuffles with the police, who set off stun grenades and opened fire to disperse the crowd.

Mr Madikizela chaired a meeting at the sub-council office, in Lentegeur, on Saturday May 5, where he said Isiqalo and Mitchell’s Plain residents would be housed in the department’s Southern Corridor housing project (“Committee to seek solutions for Isiqalo”, Plainsman, May 9).

Following this meeting, Mr Madikizela said development plans were already in place and that the department was awaiting approvals from the City of Cape Town.

Part of the corridor development includes the Kosovo housing project, which will accommodate 800 Mitchell’s Plain and Kosovo families who are on the housing waiting list.