Most of the site for a proposed fire station for Masiphumelele will now be used for high-density formal housing for the community.
Mayor Patricia de Lille made this announcement last Thursday while visiting the township with public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane and South African Human Rights Commissioner Chris Nissen.
Ms De Lille said 87% of the proposed fire station site on Solole Farm would now be used for housing. This after community leaders said they had belatedly learnt that the City wanted to use one third of that land – bought in 2004 for GAP housing – for the fire station.
GAP housing is for those who earn between R3 501 and
R15 000, which is too much for a subsidy but too little to qualify for a bond (“Fire station uproar”, Echo, August 31).
Ms De Lille and Ms Mkhwebane are now set to sign an agreement on the delivery of basic services for the township, after the City’s legal team has had a look at it.
Ms De Lille said the public protector would be sent weekly progress reports.
The City would also resubmit an application – previously rejected by the provincial Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning – for housing on a further section of the Phase 4 project for 1000 serviced sites on erf 5131.
Masiphumelele community leader Dumisani Nhlapo complained that last week’s visit by the mayor and public protector had been unexpected and he had only just managed to make it in time to hear the mayor speak.
“We were surprised when the mayor and the public protector arrived in Masiphumelele and we feel that we should have been informed of this by the City. This agreement means nothing if the City continues to exclude us from the process,” he said.
However, community leaders listened to both parties and agreed to have the office of the public protector act as a mediator, after the community rejected a City-appointed one.
But Mr Nhlapo said the mayor had dismissed his questions on portable toilets and other issues saying she had to attend a funeral.
“I was furious at the claims made by the City that we said we don’t need portable toilets,” he said. “We just want them to respect us and keep us informed.”
But Zara Nicholson, the mayor’s spokeswoman, said Ms De Lille had answered as many questions as she could before leaving for the funeral.
“The ward councillor was also present to assist in answering any other questions that were asked after the mayor left,” Ms Nicholson said.
It was Ms Mkhwebane’s second visit to Masiphumelele and she wanted a progress report from the City on what it was doing to improve living conditions in the township.
Apart from the fire station debacle, the community has accused the City of ignoring a directive by provincial government’s director of environmental law enforcement, Dr Eshaam Palmer, to clean up Masiphumelele, where many residents use buckets to dispose of their sewage into open canals because of inadequate sanitation.
A second directive was issued in July after Dr Palmer visited the area (“Steps to keep Masi clean,” Echo August 31).
Activist Rosemary Milbank said the mayor’s announcement was a victory for Masiphumelele residents but much still needed to be done. However, she was glad for the attention now brought to bear on the township by
the public protector, the Human Rights Commissioner and the director of environmental enforcement.
The public protector’s office did not respond to our questions by deadline.
IN A BOX
The City of Cape Town says it is spending R1 million every three months on cleaning services in Masiphumelele.
The City said it had unblocked sewer lines more than once between August 20 and 24 and regularly repaired taps and unblocked toilets. Nineteen Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) workers were cleaning the canals seven days a week, and machines were were also used for this.
There were 21 EPWP janitors and two supervisors responsible for cleaning more than 220 full-flush toilets in the area.
The City said it also planned to spend R2.5 million to build wash houses, set for completion in January 2018.