Outrage as Mandela Park homes are given to ‘outsiders’
April 20, 2009 Edition 1
SOME of the people of Mandela Park in Khayelitsha have promised they will resist a plan to move in the legal beneficiaries of a controversial housing project in the area.
Yesterday, Housing and Local Government MEC Whitey Jacobs had to cut short his visit to the area to welcome the new beneficiaries, as local and backyard residents chanted slogans and vowed not to back down from their “struggle” for housing.
Residents claim that people from the area were supposed to make up 30 percent of the beneficiaries of the 1 823 housing units planned.
Those protesting the handover said they would not be accommodated in the units that had yet to be completed as these had been earmarked for people from other areas.
A large police contingent ensured that a crowd of almost 300 people, many of them backyard tenants, were kept away from Jacobs as he inspected some of the completed houses.
Jacobs said afterwards that when he took over the portfolio in August, he was alerted to problems in Mandela Park by beneficiaries and by the Anti-Eviction Campaign, whose members had illegally occupied the units.
“I don’t know about 30 percent (of the beneficiaries being from the area).
“What the councillor in the area has told me is that backyard squatters here were promised 10 percent of the units.”
Jacobs said the handover was not an election stunt and the project would continue after the polls.
He blamed local leaders in the area for the angry response of some community members, saying they had been unable to agree on a list of who should benefit from the project, although he had set them a deadline of October last year.
Sivuyile Voyi, who rents a backyard shack in the area, said people were angry at former politicians and officials because they had promised that the project would provide houses for some of the people in Mandela Park, but people from other areas had benefited instead.
Voyi vowed that whoever moved into the housing units would become “victims of crime” and that squatters removed forcibly from houses would reoccupy them.
Zolani Hayiya, a local leader of the SA National Civics Organisation (Sanco), said people in the area were shocked when keys to the completed units were handed over to people who were not from Mandela Park.
“What happens now will depend on the community.”
Hayiya said that the handing over seemed like an election campaign ploy by the ANC.
Loyiso Mfuka, a community activist, said the problem was that youths from the area had been sidelined during the planning of the housing project.
“Nine days before the elections, we were called out to put our names on a list for the houses. Officials said we should ignore the (Cape Town) housing list,” Mfuka said.