Mfuleni backyarders protest over housing list dispute

Mfuleni backyarders protest in the city centre yesterday. They are upset with the way houses are being allocated in the area. Photo by Bernard Chiguvare.

Bernard Chiguvare

3 December 2015

About 300 Mfuleni backyarders marched yesterday to the office of the Western Cape MEC for Human Settlements, Bonginkosi Madikizela, to hand over a memorandum about housing in the area.

Madikizela accepted the memorandum and acknowledged the backyarders’ concerns.

A backyarder is someone who lives in a wendy house or shack in someone else’s property.

The protesters assembled on the Grand Parade in town. From there they marched along Darling Street and Adderley street to the provincial legislature in Wale Street.

Before handing over the memorandum, Bulelani Bota, secretary of the Mfuleni Backyarders Association, addressed the marchers. “We are not here to fight the Provincial Minister of Human Settlements but to request that he should take centre stage in resolving the Mfuleni backyarders’ plight,” he said.

In the memorandum the backyarders demanded that the list of housing beneficiaries which they had drawn up should be accepted. They expressed complaints about the local councillor, Themba Honono, who they said wanted his housing list with a different set of beneficiaries to be used. The protesters asked for Benedicta Van Minnen, Mayco Member for Human Settlements, and a representative of the provincial Human Settlements department to be part of further meetings on housing in the area.

Bota expressed concern about school-age children living in backyards for whom study was difficult.

He also asked for an independent housing project manager to be appointed.

After receiving and signing the memorandum, Madikizela said some of the concerns raised were valid. He said he would convene a meeting soon and wanted to find solutions before the beginning of the festive season.

Thembani Thaka, chair of the Mfuleni Development Forum, asked the provincial minister to “attend to the matter urgently and exercise your authority” to resolve corrupt activities.

Protester Doris Kamana, 59, who has lived as a backyarder in Mfuleni for nearly ten years, said people voted for councillors to serve the interests of the people but some chose to be corrupt.

“We are prepared to fight till we root out corruption in our ward,” she said.

However Councillor Honono denied the basis of the complaints against him. He told GroundUp that the housing beneficiary list is dealt with by the City. He says he has nothing to do with the list.