Covid-19 relocation of elderly and disabled people disrupted by residents in Port Elizabeth

Vastrap residents demand priority for Jaagvlakte sites

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Photo of shacks
Jaagvlakte residents say only people from Vastrap will be accepted. Photo: Mkhuseli Sizani

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s Covid-19 relocation programme for elderly and disabled people was disrupted on Monday when Jaagvlakte residents in Port Elizabeth turned away municipal trucks.

The municipality had intended to relocate elderly and disabled people from Missionvale township and Qunu informal settlement to Jaagvlakte. The Department of Human Settlements is trying to de-densify heavily populated settlements in order to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

Residents formerly from Vastrap informal settlement turned away the trucks carrying temporary structures (Wendy houses) to Jaagvlakte, saying only people from Vastrap would be accepted.

There has been an impasse between the municipality and residents for months as to who should be relocated to Jaagvlakte, predating the Covid-19 pandemic.

Daniel Makeleni, a community leader from Vastrap, said, “We felt that they were undermining our struggles and efforts we put in making sure we win Jaagvlakte sites.”

“The municipality is hiding behind the Covid-19 for bringing [other] people in Jaagvlakte,” he said.

Khaya Makalima, community leader of Jaagvlakte, said, “Residents turned away the municipal relocation trucks because 210 households from Vastrap have been waiting to be relocated.

“Now we see municipal trucks carrying temporary houses (Wendy houses) for elderly and disabled people from Missionvale being relocated here.”

“We have 22 households of disabled people who live in [shipping] containers in Vastrap who also need to be relocated. But they do not have material to build their shacks. We asked our municipality a long time ago to provide these people with Wendy houses but we were told there was no budget to buy the Wendy houses,” said Makalima.

“Now we are shocked to see other disabled and elderly people from other areas being relocated here. What about our elderly people who had to rebuild their shacks after the relocation was stopped? Why is the municipality relocating the elderly and disabled people to a place where there is no water and no toilets?” he asked.

Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality spokesperson Mthubanzi Mniki said in a text message to GroundUp: “Although engagements were done, the municipality will further engage the community of the affected area. It is the commitment of the municipality to provide safe housing and land for all those who qualify, more especially the physically challenged and the elderly.”

He did not answer our other questions.

TOPICS:  Housing

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