It was a joyous day for ten Red Hill families as the keys to their new homes, part of the City’s Dido Valley housing project, were handed over last week.
Beneficiaries arrived at the site by minibus and made their way from the parking area to their new homes singing and dancing.
The oldest beneficiary was 93 years old.
The Dido Valley housing project in Simon’s Town is a flagship restitution project and will benefit 600 beneficiaries and their families.
The majority of beneficiaries are from the Red Hill informal settlement and 500 of the Breaking New Ground (BNG) state-subsidised houses have been allocated to them while 100 of the 600 houses form part of land-restitution claims from Luyolo, a former Simon’s Town settlement that was demolished in 1967/68 (“Delays dog Dido Valley housing,” Echo May 4).
Earlier this month, the Echo reported that the progress of the development was very slow, according to the Red Hill Development Forum which represents the Red Hill beneficiaries.
However, addressing the beneficiaries at the handover on Wednesday May 17, acting mayoral committee member for human settlements James Vos said work on site was “progressing well” and the project was expected to be completed by the end of 2024, if all went to plan.
He said the Dido Valley housing project not only empowered beneficiaries as first-time homeowners but brought together a severed community.
“This is a tangible example of redress and restitution in action and of our commitment to building a better future for those who bore the brunt of the apartheid policies,” he said.
Ward councillor Simon Liell-Cock said it was a “historic moment”.
He said the initial project had been started 27 years ago by Nicky Holderness, a former councillor and mayor of Simon’s Town in the “old municipality”, and he had taken over from her 12 years ago after she had retired.
“When I became councillor, the land had just been obtained from the Department of Public Works. It took 15 years to get the land,” he said.
Ward councillor Patricia Francke, who worked in the Red Hill settlement for many years, called on some of the beneficiaries to light a candle for those who had died before receiving the title deeds to their houses.
Addressing the beneficiaries, Albert Ntsodo, the chairman for the City’s human settlement directorate, encouraged them to arrange wills and not sell their houses.
Owning a home came with responsibilities and they would now be responsible for the maintenance of their houses, he said.
“You have to look after your own houses. You can no longer phone the City and say, ‘I have electric problems.’ You are on your own, but you have gained your own property.”
The first set of keys was handed over to Barend White, 63, who said he was happy to finally have a house although it still felt unreal.
“It looks like it is well built, I’m happy,” he said.
Nomathemba Ngxangana, 93, held her keys above her head for everyone to see.
The City had arranged for her furniture to be transported to her new home and it was unloaded while she sat in her new house.
She said she had been waiting for a house since 1979.
Asked what she would do first in her new house, she said, “Sleep. It’s been a busy day.”
Simphiwe Lombo, 27, received the keys on behalf of her mother, Phyllis, 83, who could not attend the handover. Her mother had been waiting for a house for 27 years, she said.
“I can’t believe we are finally here,” she said.
The chairman of the Red Hill Development Forum, Luyanda Lombo, said he was happy that some of the beneficiaries had received their houses.
He said it was a beautiful ceremony, especially for the people who had been waiting for many years. Ten houses were not enough, but it was a good start, he added.