Backyarders irate over ‘new’ housing list

Backyarders sang and marched through Wale Street in the city centre before handing their memorandum of grievances to a representative of the Department of Human Settlements.

A group of Mfuleni backyarders picketed outside the Department of Human Settlements offices in the city centre, on Friday December 2, expressing their anger and frustration over a housing development project in Phase 5.

The group claimed that they had an agreement with Bonginkosi Madikizela, MEC of Human Settlements, in 2010 that 200 housing plots would be allocated to them.

However, they said they were puzzled when they discovered that some plots had been occupied already, even though the allocation process had not started. They accused Ward 114 councillor Themba Honono, of interfering with the process. They claimed he drafted a new housing list, despite there being a departmental list.

The angry backyarders have vowed to halt any construction plans until their demands are met.

Siyabulela Blom, chairperson of the backyarders’ organisation, told Vukani that they had an agreement with Mr Madikizela that the plots would be reserved for them. He said Mr Madikizela promised to spearhead the allocation of plots to eliminate any sort of corruption.

Mr Blom said the MEC had instructed them to submit a list of names of people who qualify to receive the plots to his office to check whether they appeared on the housing database. But, he said, they had not had any further communication from the department, prompting them to march to the departmental offices in December last year. “We have now decided to ask the public protector to intervene, and to find out why there is such a delay.

“We are aware that there are some people who trick people into buying plots. If there is no intervention, this could lead to fighting. We are aiming to raise our concerns with the national Department of Human Settlements with the intention of finding ways to speed up the allocation of plots,” he said.

Backyarder Sandile Mzondo said he has lived in the area for more than a decade. He said he was shocked when he discovered that people who did not qualify stood a chance to get the plots. He said that in order to qualify for a housing plot one needs to live as backyarder for a minimum period of ten years. He added that some of the people who had occupied the plots had not lived in the area for the required period. “About 17 plots have been occupied in Phase 5. We will leave no stone unturned in our quest to find out how they managed to occupy the plots without following the right channels. We have made a decision that no development in Phase 5 will take place until our demands are addressed properly,” he said.

Mbongi Gubuza, who accepted the memorandum on behalf of Mr Madikizela, promised to arrange a meeting between the two parties.

Department of Human Settlements’ spokeswoman, Muneera Allie, said the department would meet with the backyarders tomorrow Friday December 9.

Vukani’s attempts to get hold of Mr Honono were unsuccessful as his phoned went unanswered.