Reaction to state’s management of Masi

One of the shacks broken down.

With emotions running high in Masiphumelele, the City addressed the upset around the dismantling of shacks in the area and explained the ongoing developments planned for the “complex and challenging area”.

Community activists approached the False Bay Echo about the heartbreak experienced by Masi residents whose shacks were dismantled.

“I’ve just been out to Masi to try to help a young man who got home from work and found his home smashed to the ground,” said Rosemary Milbank.

He was crying and so embarrassed that he couldn’t stop the tears,” she said.

“I’ve found him a really nice well-built tiny home in the back of a house in Pokela Road but it will cost him R2 000 to buy and he can’t afford that all at once. We went to everyone I know but without any luck. His neighbour’s home was also smashed to the ground and everything inside as well. The guy hadn’t arrived home yet, so will get such a shock,” Ms Milbank said.

The City’s mayoral committee member for informal settlements, water and waste services; and energy, Xanthea Limberg, describing Masiphumelele as an “incredibly complex and challenging area” said there was no “single or overnight solution for Masipumelele”.

“But there is a great recognition that only through working with government stakeholders in all spheres, will the lives of our residents in Masiphumelele be substantially improved, and in an urgent manner,” she said.

“It is this collaborative approach, with the community, its diverse leadership structures as well as civic organisations, that will lead to meaningful change in the area.”

Addressing the area’s sanitation issues, she said while the City of Cape Town had welcomed confirmation by the provincial authorities of its compliance with the environmental law enforcement directive which was issued against it, it had decided to appeal the directive.

“The City has already undertaken some of the measures directed and was in the process of undertaking the remainder – however, despite compliance – the City has decided to file an appeal against the directive,” she said.

The basis of the City’s appeal included the fact that the directive was issued without taking due cognisance of the fact that there was an inter-governmental task team, including representatives from the Western Cape Government, which was working on making substantial enhancements to cleansing, waste and sanitation management in the area. The Western Cape Government, which issued the directive, was part of the task team.

The City also raised the point that it had not been given an opportunity to make representations before the issuance of the directive, as is required by administrative law.

The purpose of the task team is to establish remedial measures to be taken by the national, provincial and local government authorities in order to apply urgency to the service delivery challenges in Masiphumelele.

According to the Masiphumelele Noordhoek Action Plan Matrix, significant progress has been made since the beginning of this month.

Preliminary work on the technical investigation into the feasibility of diverting polluted low-flow stormwater from the existing Masiphumelele canals into the sewer, has been completed.

In this regard, a pilot project is being undertaken which will form part of the wash house structure and also divert grey water to sewers. This pilot project will be completed by the end of June.

Depending on the success of the wash houses, it is envisaged that more wash houses will be rolled out

The regular cleaning of the stormwater canals continues almost daily, except on weekends and public holidays due to resource constraints.

A combination of contractors and Expanded Public Works Programme workers are being used for the cleaning operations and mechanical methods are also being used.

The introduction of more frequent cleaning of silt and sludge from the stormwater canals is ongoing.

Where resources are available, increased frequency of this cleaning is being implemented.

A door-to-door refuse bag service of two bags for every dwelling, every week, is being provided; and the solid waste containers are being serviced twice a week.

In the formal areas, the bags are being removed two to three days after being filled – and in the informal areas the removal of bags is ongoing.

There is also ongoing litter picking seven days a week.

Illegally dumped material is also being removed on an ongoing basis.

This month, green bins were introduced by the task team to assist with the containment of solid and liquid waste in the informal areas of Masiphumelele.

This is a pilot project which will be monitored and assessed.

Education and awareness campaigns about the impact of pollutants entering the stormwater system and the wetlands area are also under way.

Maintenance of toilets and standpipes – as well as work on fixing and unblocking broken toilets – is ongoing.

The City is also looking at constructing more standpipes and wash areas in the informal area of Masiphumelele.

These action points were confirmed during a meeting between the City, the national Department of Water and Sanitation, and the national and provincial departments of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning.

From page 5

Ms Limberg said work on medium-term projects, such as the extension of Houmoed Road, was at an advanced stage, while the Masiphumelele Phase 4 housing project was under way.

“The City drafted a development framework for Masiphumelele, based on public input,” Ms Limberg said.

“It is hoped that this framework would eventually assist with questions regarding the future development of this settlement. All factors are still being considered.”

With reference to the activists’ outcry about heartbreak in connection to the demolition of shacks, Ms Limberg was very clear.

“It must be emphasised that the City will continue to remove illegally erected structures in the wetland area or near the site of the Masiphumelele Phase 4 housing project, because further illegal invasions are absolutely detrimental to the future of Masiphumelele,” she said.

“Currently, the wetland area is extremely dry as a result of the drought – but this will change when the rain comes. Any illegally erected structures will pose an extreme health, fire and flood risk for our residents,” she said.

Ms Limberg said that because of the density of the informal areas in Masiphumelele and the rapid and constantly growing population, emergency and basic services remain a challenge; and the City cannot allow this situation to be exacerbated by new structures being erected illegally,” she said.Dumza Nhlapo KaNdwandwe, a resident and community leader in Masi, said on the Masiphumelele Facebook page: “It is essential that the pressure on the City of Cape Town and its handling of Masi be increased” and that the unrelenting ongoing demolition of shacks “makes the DA the sinister successor to apartheid”.

“With it comes the arrogance of officials, failure to consult, the absence of plans (Masi Development Plan) and seemingly secret plans (a new road through the ‘wetland’ area).”

While claims had been made that the people of Masi were divided and did not have a spokesperson, he added, “one person got most votes in the municipal elections and is the clear leader and spokesperson in Masi: Tshepo Moletsane”.

While Mr Moletsane did not respond to the False Bay Echo’s attempts to speak to him, he said on a radio talk show that the clean-up of the canals was a great relief, because the situation beforehand was shocking and that the situation would be monitored.

*BLOB* An application has been filed to seek approval for a temporary road between Houmoed Avenue and Lekkerwater Road, which will be used to ease traffic during the construction work for the Kommetjie Road upgrade. The use of this road would be temporary, for 30 months.

There are focus group meetings about this application at Living Hope on Monday February 27, between 2.30pm and 4pm and again later between 5.30pm and 7pm.

*BLOB*The City is also considering the extension of Houmoed Avenue from Lekkerwater Road to Fish Eagle Park along the edge of the wetlands at Masi. This is not included in the current applications, and would need to be considered in a separate application including public participation process.

There is no application for approval for this yet.

For more information contact Mellissa McJames (Chand Environmental Consultants) on 021 762 3050 or mellissa@chand.co.za.