A group of Kanana residents visited the provincial offices of the Department of Human Settlement in Cape Town unannounced to demand answers about what they say is sluggish housing development plans in their community.
The residents braved the freezing weather on Thursday November 7, demanding to see the top officials. Residents alleged that last year the department said it would move 800 people in their area to formal houses in Forest Village near Mfuleni as part of speeding up service delivery towards the end of December.
But they claimed that the department’s officials informed them that due to unforeseen challenges they could only start with the allocation of houses at the beginning of the 2019.
Community leader Athembele Lengese, said only 19 residents were moved in April and since then no one has been given houses.
Ms Lengese said this was a shock to them as leaders because this was not part of the agreement that they had reached with the department.
She said they were not informed by the department as to why onlya few people were moved to Forest Village. And the community leaders were left in the dark by the department’s decision.
She said as the leaders they raised their concerns and fears about this matter with department officials but have not been able to get a response.
She said they had formed a steering committee along with other leaders from nearby areas that were set to benefit from the same housing project.
But she said later on the department advised them that each area should form its own steering committee and this brought more problems and challenges than solutions.
Ms Lengese said said they took the decision to visit the department’s officials to get clarity and express their complaints about the project.
She said they fear that some houses which were meant to be given to Kanana residents might have been given to other people.
She said as the leaders they had been branded as liars because of what the department had done.
Ms Lengese said Kanana is among the many neglected and overlooked communities when it comes to getting critical services from the government.
She said she has been living in the area for nearly 20 years but it still has no toilets and uses communal taps. “We were shocked by the department’s actions. We want to get assurance that our people’s houses are not going to be given to the wrong people. We want to know why only 19 people were given houses. We want our houses only. We have tried to engage with the officials but our pleas have fallen on deaf ears hence we have taken the decision to come here,” she said.
Department of Human Settlement communications officer, Muneera Allie, said the department has been engaging with the project steering committee in Kanana in respect of the human settlements development plans for the entire Airport Precinct, which includes areas such Gxagxa, New Rest, Lusaka, Barcelona and Kanana.
She said the relocation of beneficiaries to Forest Village has been promised, however, the department communicated that there were challenges incurred, such as problems with water and electrical connections at Forest Village which caused the delays in relocating beneficiaries.
“This was communicated at the commencement of the relocation process. It was communicated to the committee that the 800 beneficiaries to Forest Village was not only committed to Kanana, but to the entire Airport Precinct areas of which Kanana is included. The department communicated the plan to clear some space in Kanana in order to open up for development. Kanana is a bigger site as compared to some neighbouring Airport Precinct areas such as Gxagxa, New Rest and Lusaka Infills. Kanana would therefore need a bigger decanting (temporary relocation) site in order to clear sufficient open spaces to enable development to commence. One of the planned sites to temporarily move Kanana beneficiaries are Ithemba or Penhill sites,” she said.
Another community leader, Nosihle Gazi, said they were disappointed when the department officials informed them that it was looking for another area where it could build houses for them. She said they had been waiting for their houses for years and now when they thought their lives were going to get better this happens.