Following days of unrest and violent protests in Mfuleni, government officials from the human settlements department visited the area, on Friday April 8, to listen to residents’ grievances (“Choas erupts over vacant land in Mfuleni”, Vukani, April 7).
Zalisile Mbali, spokesperson for Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela, said the meeting was scheduled to address some of the concerns from the residents. He said Mr Madikizela would visit the area next month to iron out some of the issues raised by the residents.
“We had two different meetings. The first meeting was for the entire community and the second meeting was specifically for the backyarders of Bardale who staged the protest,” said Mr Mbali.
But the backyarders expressed their discontent with the meeting. They said they were unhappy that that the Human Settlements officials had not been joined by their City counterparts.
Community leader Thembele George said they received information that some foreigners had allegedly received houses at a new development in phase 4 and had also been allocated plots while Mfuleni residents and backyarders waited for their plots and houses. This, he said, had triggered the unrest.
The City told Vukani it would investigate these allegations.
Mr George said they wanted the local housing database to be changed immediately.
“What we have noticed is that some people that are on the housing database are no longer living in Mfuleni, and some have already received their houses. I have lived in Mfuleni for almost 17 years now as backyarder, but there are some people who have lived in the area for a very short time and they have houses,” said Mr George.
He said they have noticed an influx of people into the area who occupied open spaces of land.
He described Mfuleni as a “dumping place”, saying residents felt neglected by the government.
Mr George said they were also not happy about the process followed in the building of new houses in Bardale.
He said beneficiaries are being forced to stay on site, posing serious safety concerns.
“How can they build a house while you are living in the same space? Where is safety in that? What if a brick falls and hits a child?” he asked.
When Vukani asked Mr Mbali about this, he said the Department of Human Settlements did not have other land to move the people to while they were building their houses.
“We ask people to shift their shacks within the space (we are building in). We also ensure that safety measures are properly followed and we have never had any incidents due to negligence,” he said.
Commenting on the allegations that foreigners have been allocated houses, he said foreign nationals are not eligible to receive government housing.
But, he said, the foreigners may have bought their houses from locals.