Residents demand land to build houses

Makhaza residents picket outside the offices of their ward councillor Danile Khatshwa.

A group of angry Makhaza backyarders picketed outside the office of Ward 96 councillor Danile Khatshwa, on Saturday February 18, demanding land on which to build houses.

This comes after their shacks, built on land the residents had illegally occupied, were demolished by the City of Cape Town’s Law Enforcement unit.

According to residents, the unit had demolished about 19 shacks and confiscated the materials used to build them.

The affected residents, who burned tyres and dumped rubbish in the streets, accused Mr Khatshwa of ignoring their grievances and concerns.

They claimed their homes had been demolished four times since the beginning of the year, but vowed to continue erecting their shacks until their demands were addressed.

The residents argued that they had been living in the area for many years, but were not considered when there were housing developments.

Furious resident Thulani Nkabinde said they had tried many times to engage their councillor but their grievances seemed to fall on deaf ears.

As backyarders, Mr Nkabinde said, they were paying R300 a month for rent and were also expected to fork out R100 for electricity.

He said they had heard rumours that the land was earmarked for a police station.

But, for them, housing was more important.

Mr Nkabinde said their living conditions were painful and that they were constantly victimised by their landlords.

He said their demand was simple – to be given land on which to build their shacks.

“We are building shacks on an empty land and it’s not like we are moving people out.

“The reason we want to occupy that land is because it’s empty land and it has been there for years. We deserve to be allocated land because we have voted and we are South Africans,” he said.

Mr Khatshwa told Vukani that he had warned residents numerous times against illegally building structures.

Mr Khatshwa said the land was not suitable for people to live on because it was a wetland.

“When the residents started building their shacks last month I told them that what they were doing was wrong.

“I also told them that the City would demolish their structures every time they built their shacks there because the land belongs to (the City),” he said.

Anda Ntsodo, the City’s mayoral committee member for area east, said the people who embarked on this land invasion were fully aware of the channels they should have followed to access houses from the City and that their actions were “unjustifiable”.

“We encourage residents to engage local City officials and the sub-council when they want to discuss housing issues.

“Gone are the days for actions such as this. Now doors are open for engagement between local government and members of the public,” he said.

Furthermore, he said, the City could not allow the illegal occupation of land as it often led to severely negative consequences including fire-, flood- and health risks for residents.