The City of Cape Town’s R170 million housing project in Dido Valley has stoked bitterness among Ocean View residents who were forced off that land and surrounds under apartheid.
The housing project comprises 600 Breaking New Ground (BNG) subsidised houses, with 100 set aside for land restitution claims from Luyolo, a settlement on the steep slopes above Kelpak that was demolished in 1967/68.
The rest of the units will go to residents from the Red Hill informal settlement, located between Simon’s Town and Scarborough.
However, Ocean View residents who were removed from Dido Valley and surrounding areas feel the houses have been unfairly distributed.
Aslam Richards, founder of the group, Simon’s Town and Surrounding Area Forcefully Removed Fighting Back, said they planned to march to the sub-council offices in Fish Hoek on Saturday to hand over a memorandum to mayor Dan Plato.
Mr Richards said all the information about the original inhabitants of Dido Valley and Simon’s Town was displayed at the Simon’s Town museum so it was puzzling how the councillors could have got the housing mix “wrong”.
The group was happy that the Luyolo claimants were returning to the area, he said, but many of the Red Hill beneficiaries were from other provinces or neighbouring countries.
The group, he said, wanted to know who the beneficiaries of the other 500 units were and how they had been chosen.
“Ocean View is 52 years old, and we have residents who were forcefully removed from Dido Valley who have been on the waiting list for more than 20 years. What about them?”
Ocean View resident Percy Adendorff said he was removed from Dido Valley in 1965. He said he had submitted his land claim through the former Western Cape land claims commissioner, Beverley Jansen but had later learnt that his application had “gone missing”.
Ms Jansen died two weeks ago.
Basil Charles, who now lives in Milnerton, said he too had been forcefully removed from Dido Valley along with his parents and four siblings.
He said his eldest brother had completed a land claim application on behalf of the family and after years of struggling to get answers, he initially gave up.
“Of the 600 houses not even a tenth could be earmarked for the original people from the area. It is a disgrace,” he said.
The group’s legal consultant, Abe Braaf, said the memorandum would also be sent to the presidency and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform to address the slow processing of land claims and the allocation of houses by the City. They are calling for a moratorium on the housing project until their appeals have been considered.
He said they would demand a meeting with the City, Mr Plato and the presidency to give them an update on the housing situation as well as a list of the beneficiaries and the minutes and notes pertaining to the housing development. And they would continue marching while they waited for a reply, he added.
However, the City’s mayoral committee member for human settlements, Malusi Booi, said the City was only responsible for the implementation of the housing component of the project, not for selecting land claimants.
The regional land claims commission, he said, was responsible for verifying land claimants and it provided the names to the City.
He said he could not provide the number of claimants but added that some had opted to take financial compensation and other housing for compensation and only those who had opted to take housing would benefit from the Dido Valley housing project.
He said he was aware of the group’s intention to march on Saturday but said they should hand over the memorandum to the regional land claims commission.
Ocean View ward councillor Simon Liell-Cock said the Dido Valley project had started in 1995 but because the municipality had no suitable land in Simon’s Town it had had to source it from the Department of Public Works which had delayed the project for many years.
He said approval had eventually been obtained around 2010 with a condition that some units be set aside for land restitution.
The land claims commission had identified the Luyolo and Red Hill claimants, he said.
Roads, electricity, water and sanitation reticulation for the Dido Valley housing project had been completed in 2018 but budget cuts by the national government had delayed the commencement of the top structures by 18 months.
“The building of the top structures has now begun and it is anticipated that this will take up to three years to complete,” he said.
Deputy director for communications at the office of the regional land claims commissioner for the Western Cape, Vuyani Nkasayi, said there were only 70 Luyolo claimants awaiting housing.
He did not indicate who the remaining 30 housing units will go to and said further verifications of claims must still be conducted. He said the City was responsible for the allocation of the remaining 500 units and said that the commission will submit the list of names of the restitution beneficiaries to the City to allocate the 100 units.
If you have an outstanding land claim or was forcefully removed without compensation, call Mr Braaf at 071 216 9894 or Mr Richards at 074 789 0777.