“Jobless youth” move onto Khayelitsha land

“We want our own place where we can live in peace”

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Photo of shack under construction
Hundreds of Zwelitsha residents have cleared municipal land and started building shacks. Photo: Vincent Lali

Hundreds of homeless residents have cleared municipal land and built about 240 shacks in Zwelitsha, Khayelitsha.

Community leader Lelethu Gwanya said the residents had occupied the land because they had no place to stay.

“Most of us are jobless youth who can’t afford to pay rent,” she said.

Gwanya, who lived with her sister who is married with three kids, said she had moved onto the municipal land because she wanted her own place. She also said the clearing of the land would help to reduce crime in Zwelitsha. “Every morning thugs rob residents as they make their way to work, burgle nearby shacks and hide in these bushes with their stolen goods,” she said. “In December last year, criminals raped and murdered a toddler before dumping her body here. Zwelitsha will be much safer when residents remove the bushes and stay here.”

Nana Zeka, 25, who was renting a shack with five children and her 36-year-old sister, said her landlord had told her last Thursday to vacate the place because she had sold it.

Over the weekend, said Zeka, she had moved with her sister and children to Makhaza and rented another shack. But, she said, the family was “running into trouble”.

“Other backyarders living in the same yard complain that we overuse electricity because we are too many,” she said. “Now we want our own place where we won’t pay rent and where we can live in peace.”

Ntombozuko Mfeketho, 43, said she had moved onto the land because she had no money for rent.

“I use my kid’s grant to pay rent, but I’m supposed to use it to take him to school and buy him clothes and food,” she said. She sells second-hand clothes from time to time to make a living.

“I move from one shack to another because landlords chuck me out when they realise that I don’t have money to pay rent at the end of the month. Now I’m tired of renting,” said Mfeketho.

Residents say they cannot afford to pay rent and need their own homes. Photo: Vincent Lali

Yamkela Bhafu, 21, said he did not have a steady job and battled to pay rent at month end. “I survive on short contracts to work as a general worker in Cape Town. When the contract ends, I struggle to pay rent and buy electricity,” he said.

When he has no money for electricity, his landlord disconnects his plugs, which prevents him from cooking, said Bhafu.

He pays R500 for rent and R100 for electricity monthly. Bhafu said he believed that his life would be better if he had his own place.

Khangelani Bhoma, 25, said he had lost his job in November. “My landlord told me to leave after I failed to pay rent at the end of December,” he said.

Councillor Anda Ntsodo, Mayoral Committee member for Area East, confirmed that the land belonged to the City of Cape Town. “The City will take appropriate action to address the situation,” he said.

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Dear Editor

The plight of these young people cannot be ignored. They are the future. They are in effect experiencing the unintended consequences of internal migration in an effort to avoid poverty.

There is no way any country can deal with the huge numbers of people arriving in our major cities over a short period of time. There is simply no planning to meet these massive numbers arriving daily. No one has any idea of the size and complexity of the issue. Over population in South Africa is fast becoming a real test for any government, regardless of their ideology. These young people are just a small reflection of the size of the problem.

The situation is worsened by corruption and wastage of funds through mismanagement and incompetence and it's not going to go away soon.

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