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Squabble over money for Masiphumelele land

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Ward councillor accuses community leaders of charging residents to get a plot

Photo of Masiphumelele land
City-owned land next to Masiphumulele, on the remainder of Erf 5131 prepared for the Phase 4 housing project, has been identified for emergency resettlement of informal settlement residents who have built their homes in the flood-prone wetlands. Photo: Steve Kretzmann/WCN
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Land in Masiphumelele has been identified for much needed housing. This follows an investigation by the Public Protector, which led to a settlement between the City of Cape Town and the community.

But the ward councillor has accused community leaders of charging residents to access a plot on which to build their homes.

The land is the remainder of Erf 5131 which is owned by the City and on part of which the ongoing Phase 4 housing project is situated.

The settlement states the land shall be made available “as emergency relief to Masiphumelele, subject to consultation with the community on the tracts of land that have been identified by the City, and approvals required in terms of applicable legislation”.

ANC branch chairperson Tshepo Moletsane, who lodged the initial complaint over lack of service delivery with the Public Protector, says this means the people currently living in shacks in the wetlands will be able to move out of the flood and fire-prone areas, and space could be made available for cramped backyarders.

Although GroundUp raised the issue of this land being a possible option for resettlement in early 2016, Moletsane says the identification of this land was not initiated by ward councillor and sub-council chair Felicity Purchase.

At the time, manager of Table Mountain National Park Paddy Gordon told GroundUp that the 10.8ha Erf 5131 was sold to the City in 2004 for R1.5 mllion so that the City could “accommodate Masiphumelele development pressure which the SA National Parks anticipated”.

But Purchase, in the minutes of the February sub-council meeting, states it is alleged that “community leaders” told Masiphumelele residents that if they paid R50, the community leaders would “negotiate on their behalf for houses on this land”.

She stated it was also alleged that residents were told there would be a further R50 registration fee.

“There have been statements made and cases opened with SAPS in this regard,” the minutes state.

Moletsane denied that residents had been asked to pay for land allocation or registration.

He said the request for R50 was to cover costs such as the rental of a loudhailer used to announce meetings, fuel for the car from which the announcements were made, and rental of the hall in which meetings were held, which cost R100 an hour.

He said the request for residents to pay R50 was first mooted at a meeting in December but a decision was held over until after the Christmas break.

The matter was raised again on 17 January “and we agreed to present the proposal to the public” Moletsane said. “For that purpose a community meeting was held on 5 February. It was explained how the money was to be utilised and the proposal was endorsed, especially by those needing a piece of land.”

He said an investment account and a transaction account had been opened at First National Bank in which to deposit the money.

Also, community leaders were trying to compile a list of informal settlement residents and backyarders so they could present it to the Public Protector. He said about 1,000 people were on the list, with many more yet to be registered.

He said if someone could not afford to contribute the R50 toward expenses and be placed on the list, the community leaders “would consider that”.

A handful of people GroundUp spoke to who had built their homes in the wetlands said they hadn’t heard of alternative land being identified.

However, one mother of three children, who asked to remain anonymous as she feared being victimised, said she had heard people were being asked to pay R50 but did not know what the money was supposed to be for.

She said she and her husband, who has a part-time gardening job, had moved into the wetlands six months ago after they could no longer afford the R600 per month they were paying as backyarders.

“R50. I don’t have it. [I’m] not happy to pay it. There’s no receipt. I don’t know why we are paying it.”

She said a few weeks ago people were lining up at the primary school to pay, but when she asked for an explanation she was told to “just stand aside and let those who want to pay, pay”.

However, her 12-year-old daugher’s friend, who was in the yard braiding her hair, said she heard the money was for “transport”.

Victor Sithole, who rents a backyard shack, said he didn’t mind paying R50.

“R50 is nothing. I can pay it,” said Sithole, “if we lose it, we lose it.”

Produced for GroundUp by West Cape News.

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TOPICS:  Housing

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Write a letter in response to this article

Letters

Dear Editor

Why does the Councillor Felicity Purchase not speak to the Community Leaders concerned?

These are ELECTED Community Leaders who are recognised by The City of Cape Town, the Public Protector and the Human Rights Commissioner.

Why encourage divisions in the Community .... Divide and Rule???