After her husband put their names down with the City of Cape Town’s housing department for a house on 10 April 1990, Gladys Minords hoped that one day she would live in her own house. But that dream has been crushed after a housing project she was finally part of, was halted.
Minords lives with her 63-year-old husband and adult son in the backyard of her deceased in-laws’ house in Bishop Lavis. She is being evicted because the owner wants to sell the house.
Minords and her husband are part of the City’s Valhalla Park Housing project, which was halted in the middle of last year because of “violence and intimidation” in the area, according to the City.
The housing project would have provided over 700 subsidised homes to families in Valhalla Park.
“I am a 62-year-old backyarder. Where have you ever heard of such? It pains me so much what is happening with this project. I have been waiting for a house since the 1990s. I am old. I have diabetes and high blood pressure. Both my husband and I do not work. How much longer do we have to wait?
“The people from the City of Cape Town came here and gave us letters that they are stopping the construction of houses because of violence. But for how long will the project be stopped? Must we still wait? Is there no other project they can put us in?” asked Minords.
When GroundUp visited Minords, she was sitting under a tree in the shade, not far from a little house that she and her husband built. When it rains the roof leaks. This has damaged her wardrobe and left the carpet wet and smelly.
The “Status of Construction” letter, which Minords and other beneficiaries received from City officials, is dated 17 July 2017. It says that the project, started in February 2016, was to be completed on September 2017. But the construction site was shut down in May 2017.
“This was the third incident on the site,” reads the letter. “The City Law Enforcement and South African Police Services have tried without success to assist the contractor in the project…..The contractor could no longer work under these life threatening circumstances…..The project has currently been put on hold for an unknown period of time……This regrettable situation has a direct impact on you as a beneficiary but is largely outside the control of the City.”
Minords said that not being able to get a house “broke her spirit”. She and her husband survive on their pensions and on the little that is provided by her three sons who are employed.
She says she has never had a good relationship with her landlord. “But I told him that we are not going anywhere,” says Minords. “He cannot kick us out. Where does he expect us to go? I am really tired. I have no more fight left in me. This housing thing has just left me defeated.”
Xolani Koyana, spokesperson for Mayor Patricia De Lille, said the City of Cape Town was proceeding with the project and some services had already been completed.
“On a number of occasions the contractors were threatened by gangsters who wanted the company to pay protection money. In some instances, shots were fired into the site camp, putting the lives of the staff in danger. It was important for the City and the contractor to put the project on hold for the safety of those involved in the construction.
“Beneficiaries were notified of the delay through letters received last year.”
“Contractors have been identified to undertake the construction and work will start once the security in the area is stable”, said Koyana.
This article has been updated to include comment from the City of Cape Town.
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