Anger as housing project stalls

There is uncertainty around the multi-million rand housing project in Nyanga. 

A R90 million housing project in Nyanga that was hailed for its promises to give some of the most vulnerable residents a sense of security and dignity, is in shambles.

The project was to have provided housing opportunities to 434 beneficiaries and their families by March 2020. But now the homes, mostly unoccupied, are being vandalised, stripped of just about everything, from windows to doors, bath tubs, and electrical cables.

In August last year, at the handover of state-subsidised Breaking New Ground (BNG) houses, City of Cape Town mayor Dan Plato, Miranda Ngculu, sub-council 14 chairperson Thandi Makasi and Mayco member for human settlements Malusi Booi promised that the City would work harder to ensure that it sped up delivery but that hasn’t happened.

Residents living near the development said they have pleaded with the City to hand over the houses to the beneficiaries so they can look after them.

Nyanga resident Nokukhanya Matu said her cousin was among the beneficiaries, but authorities would not hand the house over to her.

“Why they can’t give the houses to the owners amazes me. They have started well with the project but now is at a standstill (and the) houses are vandalised. This will also harbour thugs,” she said.

Another resident said there was also unhappiness that the City had allocated some of the houses to people from outside of Nyanga.

He claimed the houses which had been vandalised were allegedly those which had been allocated to people from New Crossroads.

“Remember this project was meant for people of Nyanga, Zwelitsha and backyarders of this area only,” he told Vukani. “We now hear that 95 houses are for people of New Crossroads. That will not happen here.The City can see where it will solve the problem. Here, we need the people of Nyanga only.”The man, who refused to allow us to use his name in the paper, said they were willing to die for the houses.

The BNG houses were to benefit the backyarders from the surrounding areas of Nyanga like Mau-Mau and Zwelitsha, the elderly and those living with disabilities.

Ward 37 Councillor Luyanda Nyingwa confirmed that the houses were being vandalised, adding that he was worried that the housing development would be destroyed before people could move in to their houses.

He, however, said the office of the mayor and the human settlements department were working on a solution.

Mayco for Human Settlements Malusi Booi, said the City was aware of the vandalism but that the sites were under control and that the units would be repaired before they were handed over to beneficiaries. This, however, would only happen once the lockdown had been lifted and contractors had assessed the damage.

He also explained that the houses could not be handed over until they were completed and that, among others, the electricity supply had been connected. Responding to residents’ upset that people from New Crossroads were among the beneficiaries, he said they had been included after a public participation process that was undertaken in 2016, culminating in an Allocation Request Form (ARF) being signed for this project.

“The ARF is an important document as it forms the basis of allocation in all housing projects. The City has been engaging with said community groups during the course of 2020 in an effort to unblock this situation, but it has not yet been resolved,” he said.

Mr Booi said there had been delays in handing over houses and attributed this to the slow completion of the electrical reticulation. He said the delays had now, however, been resolved and work on the electrical reticulation could continue after the lockdown period and houses would be handed out after that.

However, he added, a number of units could not be handed over due to disagreement among community groups about residents of New Crossroads being included in the project.