Agreement with City a victory for Masi

A blocked drain in section z of Masiphumelele.

The provision of GAP housing has long been a thorny issue for Masiphumelele residents and it is hoped the signing of a settlement agreement on Wednesday November 29 between the City of Cape Town and Masiphumelele community leaders after the intervention of Public Protector, advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, will improve living conditions in the area.

In the agreement, the City said it would move residents currently living in the wetlands to erf 5131 on Solole farm and provide them with low-cost housing as part of the City’s phase 4 housing project.

In August, residents were furious after the City announced that a fire station would be built on erf 5131 that was initially bought in 2004 for housing purposes (“Fire station uproar”, Echo, August 31).

The following month, Ms Mkhwebane and Human Rights Commissioner, Chris Nissen, visited the settlement where Mayor Patricia De Lille announced that 87% of the proposed fire station site on Solole Farm would be used for housing.

Following the meeting, Ms Mkhwebane offered to act as a mediator between residents and the City (“Greenlight for housing,” Echo, September 7).

Cleopatra Mosana, spokeswoman for the Public Protector, said the meeting served as a mechanism for implementation of the issues relating to the community as raised by community leaders and as a result of the intervention by Ms Mkhwebane, there has been significant progress made.

Ms Mosana added that Ms De Lille had outlined the City’s budget process, explaining that there had been a budget allocated for the current financial year for Masiphumelele and the City needed to determine how much of it had been spent, and report to council.

She said, during the meeting, the City had said it would like to come up with an alternative plan to accommodate the other needs of the community and would supply Ms Mkhwebane with a report at the end of December 2017.

“As a result of the multi-party stakeholder engagement, which included the office of the Human Rights Commission, the City has committed to improving communication and accepted the community’s proposal to ensure that they live in better and improved conditions which will restore their dignity,” Ms Mosana said.

Community leader, Dumisani Nhlapo said community leaders were happy with the agreement and according to feedback from the community, so were they.

He said it was not clear when people would be moved and that the City had agreed to provide all the details by the end of December.

He said although the City has a database of people who needed to be moved, community leaders were currently busy compiling their own database of people living in the wetlands as it was crucial that they were moved first.

“They are currently living in terrible conditions and their homes are flooded with sewage,” he said.

Community activist, Rosemary Millbank agreed that people living in the wetlands must be moved without delay as they were at risk of contracting cholera, typhoid and diseases carried by rodents.

“The shocking life threatening conditions in Masiphumelele that have previously been ignored by the City must be attended to immediately,” she said.

She said people living in the wetlands where canals are dangerously filled with sewage due to 240 toilets for 24 000 people has been going on far too long and finally something will be done about their living conditions.

At the time of going to print the City had not responded to Echo’s enquiry.