Residents threaten to build shacks in town

SIYAVUYA KHAYA

The need for houses and better service delivery from the government topped the agenda at an imbizo at Mew Way Hall, on Friday April 29.

The imbizo was convened by Jeff Radebe, Minister for Monitoring, Evaluation and Planning in the presidency.

The poorly attended meeting, with approximately 50 people, was aimed at giving residents a platform to engage with the minister on crucial issues affecting their lives.

However, the few residents present made themselves heard. They complained about the sluggish service delivery pace, particularly in townships. They also voiced their frustrations over the lack of decent houses. They told Mr Radebe they were fed up of being treated like “second-rate citizens”.

A furious Ses’khona People’s Rights Movement secretary, Loyiso Nkohla, said it was shocking that after 22 years of freedom, thousands of residents of Khayelitsha and the surrounding areas were still living in appaling conditions, in informal settlements.

He said Khayelitsha was one of the country’s largest townships yet the government seemed to play hide and seek in providing the necessary services to the people.

Mr Nkohla added that there are about 200 informal settlements in Cape Town and black people lived in them.

“We give you two options, minister, to address this issue. The first option we give you, minister, is that we need another imbizo where every community in Cape Town would attend and voice their concerns, not just these few people who are here. Failing to do so minister, on Thursday May 12, we will take our shacks to the Cape Town CBD to showcase the battles faced by people living in shacks, and we will continue to intensify that fight. That is the second step which we would take to raise our plight,” he said.

Mr Nkohla added that about R400 million had been used to buy portable toilets and he believed that money could have been used to build houses for people.

BM section resident Siyabulela Dyifile, whose shack was among those engulfed by fire in 2013, said government had promised to move them to a proper place, within six months following the fire.

However, four years later nothing had been done. “Are you not coming here to campaign for votes? And how do we know that you are going to come back because the president himself said he would be back, but he never came back. To be quite frank with you, minister, we as residents of Khayelitsha have lost faith in government to better our lives, especially us BM section,” he said.

Mr Dyifile said they were promised a mobile clinic, but that never materialised. He said their temporary structures were cold, especially during winter, putting their children’s lives at risk.

“Our children are always exposed to inhumane living conditions and we do not know whether we will ever be removed from this disgusting place to a better place, “ he said.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Radebe expressed shock at how people lived, following a brief walkabout in Site C. He said it was evident that there was a service delivery backlog in Khayelitsha.

“I was shocked to see a family of seven people sharing a one-room shack and I could not contain my tears when they told me about their living conditions. I have seen it with my own eyes and heard the residents that they need houses and necessary services from the government,” he said.

Mr Radebe promised the residents that his department was going to facilitate another imbizo where different stakeholders, including the national Human Settlements Department, would be invited. “ I commit myself that I will be back and I have jotted down all of your concerns and I will meet my other colleagues to discuss them,” he said.