Gugulethu backyarders demand houses

Stunned Minister of Human Settlements Nomaindia Mfeketo and her deputy Zoe Kota-Fredricks together with the City of Cape Towns Siyabulela Mamkeli in Gugulethu.

Angry Gugulethu backyard dwellers have warned the Minister of Human Settlements Nomaindia Mfeketo and the ruling party that they will lose out in the 2019 elections if they do not sort out the housing problems.

Ms Mfeketo was welcomed at Gugulethu Sport Centre with a picket by residents who said they had been evicted from land where they built their shacks.

The minister was in Gugulethu on Friday June 22 to give feedback on possible land for backyard dwellers, following protests for land and housing in the area recently.

However, part of the audience attending the Imbizo were so rowdy the minister could not finish what she was saying.

Calling themselves the Gugulethu 7 Yarders, this group caused a scene at the hall as they demanded that the leaders give them land or accommodation and food while they stay in Luntu community hall.

Refusing to listen to the minister and other speakers, the backyarders said they were tired of empty promises from the government.

Another angry group walked out within 20 minutes.

Ntombekhaya Mamputa, shouted: “2019 is coming, and you are going to lose. We will see who is going to come to us.”

Ms Mfeketo tried hard to explain that a technical team had been working on the housing crisis, identifying sites for possible new developments.

She said her team was in the area for three weeks in a bid to understand the plight of the backyarders. She said the team had also been working on the issue of title deeds that were never issued, which prevents people from taking out loans against their properties.

However, she was always cut short by the shouting crowds. Some people even walked up to the stage to shout at her.

Ms Mfeketo, who took the microphone from the Human Settlements director-general Mbulelo Tshangana, the programme director, because people would not listen to him, also eventually surrendered the microphone.

It was then passed around for people to air their grievances.

However, Ms Mfeketo suggested that they set up a backyarders steering committee where they will be able to meet with her or the provincial human settlements department to raise their concerns.

She also advised them not to look just at Gugulethu when it comes to housing in the country. She also promised that before the end of the year, the government would buy some of the private land and said there are 21 parcels of land available in the metro.

Before talking to the residents, Ms Mfeketo told journalists that she acknowledged that there was a housing crisis all over the country and that was sparking unrest and protests.

She was convinced that she had answers for the people of Gugulethu. “I come with concrete answers that there is land. I am a child of Gugulethu and I know their concerns.” She told journalists that she was shocked that some of the housing projects appeared to have stalled.

She said there was erf 4884 near Fezeka municipality in Gugulethu to cater for 550 houses. She wanted to know why there are still no progress.

The meeting ended with no confirmation as to whether the backyarders would form a steering committee or when the minister would meet them again.