Vrygrond occupiers give De Lille till Monday to respond

Community leaders have called temporary halt to occupation after meeting the mayor

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Photo of open land
Backyarders wish to occupy this tract of vacant land in Vrygrond. Currently there is a small farm and a recycling centre on part of the land. Photo: Thembela Ntongana

Residents have agreed to halt a land occupation which started in Vrygrond on the weekend. This comes after 15 residents, including community leaders, met with Mayor Patricia de Lille on Wednesday.

“We tabled our issues with the mayor,” said community leader Daniel Nomavile. “We explained to her that land is a need in the community where people are dependent on social grants and are unable to pay rent due to unemployment.”

He said they had agreed to stop residents from occupying the land until they receive feedback from the mayor on Monday, 23 April.

“But we have emphasised that should people not get a response or are not happy with the response we cannot stop the residents from going to occupy the land again,” said Nomavile.

Demolitions carried out by the City led to protests and looting on Monday, with Prince George Drive being closed down and a liquor store vandalised.

Nosicelo Ngaleka, a backyard dweller who attended the meeting, said, “All we want to hear on Monday is that we can build our shacks on that land. We’re not asking for houses, just the land.”

“If we do not get that then we will go back to occupy it. We are not doing this for fun … We are desperate for a way out of the rentals we are staying in,” said Ngaleka.

Xolani Koyana, spokesperson for the mayor, said, “Mayor De Lille is however clear that these grievances should be raised in a peaceful manner and is willing to provide a platform for residents to raise them.”

“Land invasions which pose a health, fire and flooding risk cannot be allowed in Cape Town,” said Koyana.

He said the City has committed to investigating the history of the land in question and has also briefed the community leaders on ongoing plans for the area, including a housing project that would benefit thousands of residents.

Mayoral Committee Member for Transport and Urban Development Brett Herron said a housing development is being planned and the City would communicate the details once the process was finalised.

Demolitions carried out by the City in Vrygrond led to protests and looting earlier in the week. Photo: Thembela Ntongana
TOPICS:  Housing Land

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