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City says “a few individuals” blocked the Mfuleni housing project

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Resources allocated to other areas

Photo of vacant land in Mfuleni Extension 2.
Extension 2 in Mfuleni stands vacant a year after the housing project was halted by the City of Cape Town because of actions by “certain community members”. Photo: Masixole Feni
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The housing project for Mfuleni Extension 2 was scrapped because of the behaviour of “a few individuals” according to City officials.

Mfuleni community leader Mzoli Matutu said the community had signed an agreement with the City of Cape Town in 2014 during a meeting in which they had aired their grievances. Residents had been promised that construction of houses in Extension 2 would start the same year.

“Many residents do not have houses in Extension 2 and they had high hopes for the housing project which has now gone quiet. We’ve had numerous meetings held about this issue, but no solution has been found,” said Matutu.

“We have tried to find out what is going on, but it’s extremely difficult. We have even contacted the national office of human settlements minister Lindiwe Sisulu, but nothing is helping”.

The City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements Benedicta van Minnen said the City had engaged with the community about this issue for more than two years and had now decided to halt the project.

“For years, community engagement regarding this matter had taken place. Unfortunately, due to unrest caused by certain members of the community, the City of Cape Town was forced to stop the delivery of housing opportunities earmarked through the Bosasa and Mfuleni Extension 2 developments.

“The City had repeatedly warned those responsible for the unrest that they are harming the broader interests of the community at large,” she said.

“In the end, the City had to take a decision based on the broader realities that we were presented with. We engaged with this community for more than two years. Every time an agreement was reached, progress was prevented by the actions of a few individuals who were and are driving their own, narrow political and financial interests at the expense of the community.”

“They have ruined the possibilities for law-abiding residents, and they have even threatened to illegally invade the structures which have been built for, amongst others, the victims of the BM Section fire.

“The City did not take the decision to halt these developments lightly,” said Van Minnen.

She said the City had no plans to review its decision and residents had been told this. Resources which had been allocated to Mfuleni would be used in communities who had not “destroyed and vandalised infrastructure”, and “who want to work with the City to see development in their areas,” said Van Minnen.

But Matutu said that the reason for the unrest was because the City had changed its plans.

“1,006 structures were supposed to be built and of that, 300 were supposed to go to Mfuleni backyarders. Then the City said of that 300, 150 would go to people in BM Section in Khayelitsha and then the other 150 would be split between Eerste River and Burundi, an informal settlement in Mfuleni. This made people angry. There were about five structures put up in Extension 2 and they were vandalised and taken down by the City in 2014,” he said.

In a statement on 19 February last year, Mayor Patricia de Lille said: ‘It is in light of this extreme violence that all development in the area will now be halted, which includes the development of the Extension 2 project which was anticipated to start six to eight weeks from now.’

According to this statement, the 1,006 units in the Mfuleni housing development had been allocated; 792 would be allocated to BM Section beneficiaries, 54 allocated to WB Section, and 160 would be proportionally split between Burundi and Mfuleni and Eerste River backyarders who qualified in terms of the Emergency Housing Programme.

The Extension 2 land currently stands vacant with no housing.

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TOPICS:  City Housing Mfuleni

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