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“We won’t vote” say Khayelitsha shack dwellers

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“Because I have no land or house, I feel as if I’m a foreigner.”

Photo of protesters
Shack dwellers from the Masakhane informal settlement marched to the offices of sub-council 9 in Khayelitsha on Wednesday, demanding toilets, taps and RDP houses. Photo: Vincent Lali
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Shack dwellers from the Masakhane informal settlement marched to the offices of sub-council 9 in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, on Wednesday, demanding toilets and taps and RDP houses.

They had expected Mayco Member for Human Settlements, Councillor Malusi Booi, to receive their memorandum, but he did not appear. They sang struggle songs and carried placards that read: “We won’t vote. We need houses. Please” and “No vote. We are suffering.”

Ward councillor Monde Nqulwana received the memorandum and said he would hand it to Booi.

Community leader Nontembiso Luphuwana said about 700 families live in shacks in Masakhane. “Politicians have been promising to build houses for us since 1994. We have been staying in the shacks for about 30 years. Now we want houses,” she said. “We don’t want to be relocated, because we want the City of Cape Town to build houses where we stay.”

“We only have ten toilets. Some of them have leaking pipes. Others are blocked and have no doors,” said Luphuwana.

She said residents struggled to get water because taps are broken. “Either you stand in line at the water tap, or go to RDP house owners nearby to beg for water,” said Luphuwane.

Kadekile Halile said, “Because I have no land or house, I feel as if I’m a foreigner.”

Daniswa Jaca said she has been living in her cramped shack in Masakhane since 1990 with her husband. “My children have their own kids now, so they must leave me and have their own houses.”

Jaca said she applied for an RDP house in 1993. “Last year, I went to the housing department to check if my application had been approved. Officials said I must still wait,” she said.

Zandile Mdoyi said, “I was born and brought up in Masakhane, but I have never seen any improvement in the way people live here.” She applied for an RDP house in 2014.

“When I own a house, I won’t fret about closing leaks and scooping rain water out of my shack on rainy days,” she said. Mdoyi is out of work and survives on her two children’s social grants. She felt the City could do more when the shacks flooded. “The City gives us sand to dry up our wet shacks, but the sand gets wet as well. The sand doesn’t make our shacks liveable.”

Patrick Wambi settled in Masakhane in 1996. He said residents locked the few toilets that are still usable. “If you don’t have keys to the toilets, you struggle to find a place to relieve yourself.” He said he applied for an RDP house several times, but he has given up.

Responding to GroundUp, Booi said he apologised “for not being able to personally accept the
memorandum from the community “. He said, “I already had meetings scheduled which I could not be excused from.”

“I would like to reassure the community that the City’s human settlements department is aware of the acute need for housing opportunities across the metro and we are making every effort to address this matter and provide basic services wherever possible within the constraints being experienced,” said Booi.

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