Media: Forced removals

29 01 2009
January 29, 2009 Edition 1
Kerry Chance, Marie Huchzermeyer and Mark Hunter
Source: The Mercury

REJECTION of transit camps and contestations around “adequate housing” are central to urban livelihoods.

Tomorrow the Durban High Court will rule on whether residents of Siyanda shack settlement near KwaMashu will be forcefully moved into a “transit camp” to make way for a new road.

This is a matter of life-changing importance to the 50 households facing removal.

But the way the court defines “adequate alternative accommodation” is of much wider significance.

Siyanda residents argue that the tiny masonite-and-tin structures of the transit camp are not adequate alternative accommodation, as required by the law.

They demand a clear assurance of permanent housing, or to be allowed to rebuild their larger shacks – some comprising five rooms – on land near Siyanda.

For the government, the alternative accommodation is “formal” and thus, by definition, acceptable.

This conflict cuts to the heart of the nature of housing after apartheid. After a slow start, more than two million houses have now been built.

At the same time, the reconstruction and development programme houses are usually tiny two-roomed structures, are often constructed poorly and are usually built on the outskirts of towns.

Their living space is typically a meagre 30m2.

Yet the Richmond Farm transit camp to where the authorities want to move the Siyanda residents contains structures that are only around 20m2. Read the rest of this entry »