Dunoon leaders say they were not consulted on de-densification plans

Provincial government says stakeholder engagement will take place on Thursday

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The site to which 1,500 families from Dunoon are expected to be relocated on Winning Way in Milnerton. Archive photo: Peter Luhanga

Community leaders in Dunoon have raised the alarm over City of Cape Town plans for reblocking or “de-densification” of their area. These plans were announced in late March to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Authorities are clubbing together to build what were previously referred to as Temporary Residential Units, but are now called Transitional Residential Units (TRUs) – 1,500 for Dunoon and 2,000 for the Greater Kosovo community. It is expected that some will be relocated to land situated at Winning Way, Milnerton, by July.

In an open letter sent on Tuesday morning to Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, Premier Alan Winde, Provincial Minister of Human Settlements Tertius Simmers, Mayor Dan Plato, and Mayco Member Malusi Booi, Dunoon community leaders say they have mostly heard about the project through the media and have not been consulted by government officials.

In a press statement in March, Simmer’s spokesperson said: “Over the coming days, we will start engaging affected communities and explain how the process will unfold.”

“There is a lack of communication. It’s concerning us because the residents are asking us what is going on?” said Sinethemba Matomela, Dunoon committee chairperson and a ward committee member.

In the letter, community leaders said they feared that the TRAs would become a “permanent dumping ground” similar to Blikkiesdorp, Wolwerivier, and New Rest.

“The experience of New Rest now begs the question of what ‘temporary’ means and what conditions are considered adequate for the relocation of our people,” they wrote.

The open letter also raised concerns about the living conditions and services such as water and electricity for the temporary units.

The leaders also questioned which residents would qualify to be relocated, when it would happen, and whether there would be facilities at the TRA sites.

“We are not against the reblocking, because we understand that Dunoon is very dense. Our problem is that government officials should come and consult us,” said Matomela.

Demands outlined in the letter are:

  1. All spheres of government to fully consult with ward councillors and community leaders.
  2. A clear outline and timeline of the reblocking project and how long will people live in the TRAs.
  3. That government prepare pamphlets with adequate information in isiXhosa, English and Afrikaans about its plans.
  4. And a demand to know whether the funding for the de-densification project comes from the same funds as the Annandale project (a development next to Dunoon on 71 hectares of farm land).

Marcellino Martin, spokesperson for Minister Simmers, told GroundUp that there will be a “Dunoon stakeholder engagement” later today, 21 May.

On Thursday afternoon, Simmers confirmed that he had seen the open letter. He said that their “stakeholder engagements” would continue.

“Since the national minister’s announcement [of the de-densification process], we’ve had seven group engagements. Those part of these group engagements have been the sub-council Chairperson, Ward Councillor, Ward Committee, SAPS, and Health officials, along with the community leadership and the Racing Park Business Association,” said Simmers.

He said that the area and residential units would “incorporate new technology, which is completely different to what has been seen before”.

This article was updated to include comment from Minister Simmers.

Read the open letter.

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TOPICS:  Covid-19 Housing

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Dear Editor

I'm in full support of this action. Dunoon is over-populated and with the coronavirus spreading like wildfire, drastic measures need to be taken as soon as possible, and people need to comply.

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