Interdict clears way for Masi sports field shelters

One of the temporary shelters the City built earlier this year in Masiphumelele for fire victims.

The City of Cape Town has obtained a court interdict to stop Masiphumelele community leaders from interfering with plans to build temporary shelters for fire victims on a sports field in the township.

A fire on Thursday December 17 last year destroyed 1000 homes and left more than 6000 people homeless.

The City says more than 500 fire victims are still homeless after the project to build temporary shelters for them was delayed by violence, intimidation and petrol-bomb attacks by community leaders and a small group of youths, last week.

Mayoral committee member for transport Felicity Purchase said the City had sought the interdict following continued protest action over the use of the sports field and acts of vandalism and theft of City property on Friday March 19. She said criminal charges had been laid.

The interdict had been served on a group of community leaders on the Friday, she said, adding that 45 more temporary shelters made from metal sheets had been given to fire victims.

The interdict stops several community leaders identified by the City from approaching within 50m of the Masiphumelele sports field; preventing City employees, contractors, councillors or law enforcement officials from carrying out their duties; threatening, harassing or interfering in any way with the temporary housing project; barricading road access to the field; and committing acts of arson or vandalism to the temporary shelters on the field.

Ocean View police spokesman, Sergeant Mfundo Nyengane, said there had been protests and charges of malicious damage to property had been laid.

He said the case was under investigation.

To date, the City has completed 446 temporary shelters. The remaining 444 are to be built on the sports field.

Mayoral committee member for human settlements Malusi Booi said the Masiphumelele sports field was the only immediately available land option.

Those settled temporarily on the sports field would get priority for permanent housing under the longer-term rebuilding plan so the field could be rehabilitated as soon as possible.

Masi Youth Group member Tyson Golozana said the field was critical to the development of the youth in the township and the City had destroyed all other recreational facilities by rezoning them for housing.

The group responsible for sports and recreation in Masiphumelele had not been consulted about the matter, and the City had “bulldozed” its way onto the field, he said.

A joint statement from community leaders Lunga Mathambo and Howard Mbana said it had been decided, at a meeting on Thursday February 25, that the sports field was no longer an option for temporary housing as it was too small and sports activities had resumed under relaxed lockdown restrictions.

They want the City to use a portion of ERF 5131, a property west of the sports field and north of the waterworks, for the remaining temporary shelters, but Mr Booi said Erf 5131 has been earmarked for another housing development and was not an immediate option as it was subject to legal proceedings.

Ms Purchase said a flat piece of land with access to electricity, water and sanitation was needed, and ERF 5131 was not suitable.