Media: Street folk stay put

28 01 2009

28/01/2009 02:10 PM – (SA)
CARMEN PRINS
Source: TygerBurger

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THE provincial department of housing has given the people living on the pavement in Symphony Way the option to move into the temporary relocation area (TRA); but they have chosen to live on the pavement instead, says the spokesperson for the department, Mr Lukhanyo Calata.

Calata says it saddens the provincial minister of housing Mr Whitey Jacobs, that the people are living there and urged them to take the department up on the offer by moving into the TRAs.

The pavement dwellers, who have been living in horrendous conditions on the pavement in Symphony Way, Delft, marched to the department’s offices in Cape Town last week to enquire about housing.

Accompanied by Mr Ashraf Kassiem of the Western Cape Anti-eviction campaign, the 127 families who have been living on the pavement for the past 12 months went in search of answers.

The people were originally part of the more than 2 000 families who had illegally occupied the N2 Gateway houses in Delft in December 2007.

They were evicted from these homes by a court order in February 2008.

Kassiem says in a meeting held on 27 October last year the ministry agreed the people will be moved, but at a percentage and not all at once.

Kassiem says they went to the offices in hope of finding that the department has a plan on how the housing issue will be addressed, but says they came back disappointed.

“There is no direction, nor agreements. They don’t have a plan for housing. This was an emergency. How can they come a year later and say they now only know what our problem is?” askedKassiem.

Calata said they are facilitating a meeting with Thubelisha for sometime this week.

Some of the terrible living conditions on the pavement include having to use one tap, three families sharing one toilet and having to face the harsh elements. “The people have gone through all seasons (especially rainy and windy conditions) and the place is torture. They need to fix their places every day as these are flimsy structures, made from wood, cardboard, papers and other materials at their dispose. We didn’t want to make it more comfortable as we thought it was temporary.”

Twenty seven children have been born on the street and during last year’s evictions a woman suffered a miscarriage.

“I don’t think the housing department has a plan. I think politics have taken preference over our needs. This is not acceptable.” He said the people will join in campaigning the standpoint of “No land. No house. No job. No vote. I think Symphony Way is going to play a big role in this campaign”.

Kassiem says the department agreed to get back to them with a new meeting date. In response to the people’s decision to continue living there, Kassiem answered, “The people living here have learnt to be strong. They have nowhere to go.”

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