Masi housing project woes

Cape Town - 190116 - The streets of Masiphumelele. Girls Pride Africa is an NGO based in Masiphumelele, which offers support for teen moms. They help provide food and nappies and look after the children, while encouraging the young mothers to return to school, or go out and find jobs. Picture: Armand Hough / African News Agency (ANA)

Construction of the Masiphumelele Phase 4 housing project started earlier this month and is expected to be completed by mid-2020.

While the City of Cape Town sees this as a victory for wetlands residents who live in harrowing conditions, community leader, Dumsani Nhlapo does not.

He is adamant that the City should stick to its agreement, signed in November 2017, after the intervention of the Public Protector, advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, to move residents to Erf 5131,(“Agreement with City a victory for Masi,” Echo, December 7, 2017).

Executive Mayor Dan Plato and mayoral committee member for human settlements, Malusi Booi visited the construction site on Saturday March 16.

Mr Nhlapo said he expressed his dissatisfaction during the visit and told the two City officials that Masiphumelele residents would take Erf 5131 by force should a date, when residents will be moved, not be provided.

Mr Nhlapo said he was not against the housing project but the City needed to prioritise moving residents before winter.

“We are willing to take a step back and will try to convince our people not to invade the land if the City is willing work with us,” he told the Echo.

The housing project, he said, could take longer than estimated and in the meantime, wetlands residents would have to endure cold and wet winters.

The R85 million housing project – on the corner of Ntansiso and Ntantala roads and the corner of Myeza Road and Houmoed Avenue – comprises 227 Breaking New Ground (BNG) state-subsidised houses.

And according to Mr Booi, the houses will be allocated to qualifying Masiphumelele beneficiaries registered on the City’s housing database.

The City bought Erf 5131 from SANParks in 2003 and since then, the use of the land has been a contentious issue.

Erf 5131 is located west of the Masiphumelele sports fields and north of the waste water treatment works. It is partially a sports field, and another part of it is used for the phase 4 housing project.

The remainder of the ground will be used as a temporary relocation area once the Houmoed Avenue extension has been approved.

Mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, Felicity Purchase said the City was busy investigating other land options, including Erf 5131, to accommodate the remainder of wetlands settlement households as well as other households in Masiphumelele such as the backyarders in the formal area who will not receive subsidised houses.

She said the long-standing plan for the Houmoed Avenue extension – connecting the recently completed section in the west (Noordhoek Main Road) and the east (Longbeach Mall area) was still on the cards and the City was awaiting the results of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) and water licence for the entire route.

Once authorisation has been given, and assuming there will be no appeals, the aim will be to implement the whole road scheme in one contract, subject to funding availability as part of the Masiphumelele development.

Mr Plato said while he had noted the threat to invade Erf 5131 made by Mr Nhlapo, he did not want to comment further on it.

Mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, added: “The City has effectively been dealing with two to three land invasions per day and will not hesitate to act in Masiphumelele to defend public open spaces and community spaces should it be invaded.”