Opinion: Ruling brings relief to too few shack dwellers

18 06 2009

June 16, 2009 Edition 1

Source: Cape Argus

Your editorial (“A mixed outcome”, June 11) claims the Constitutional Court’s decision on the eviction of the residents of Joe Slovo informal settlement to make way for N2 Gateway homes included the provision that “70 percent of the shack dwellers who were recorded as being resident there in 2000, and qualified for this housing, should be returned to the area once new homes have been built.”

This is incorrect.
The court decided that 70 percent of the N2 Gateway houses built in Joe Slovo should be allocated to the former and present residents, not that 70 percent of the residents should be returned to the area.

The difference is apparent. There are presently 4 386 households there, and possibly another 4 500 who were moved around 2005 to Delft. On your reckoning, 6 220 of these households should be returned to housing in Joe Slovo.

But only 1 500 houses are to be built. Thus, in reality only 1 050 households will return to Joe Slovo – not 70 percent but 12 percent of the present and former residents.

The remainder are to be evicted – apartheid-style – from Langa to the outskirts of the city in Delft.

There, they will be housed in concentration-camp-like temporary accommodation (which the Constitutional Court demands be of “decent quality” – a “decent” concentration camp!) and then, possibly, get N2 Gateway housing in Delft (though the process of allocation of that newly built housing is far from transparent).

N2 Gateway is essentially the national government’s programme. The city and now provincial DA government’s programme is even worse.

There is a backlog of 400 000 houses in the city, increasing by 18 000 a year – yet only 8 000 houses a year are being built.

Meanwhile the DA (despite proclaimed policies of free market entrepeneurism) is determined to prevent any overcrowded backyarders building shacks for themselves on vacant municipal land, as the recent violent and forcible prevention by Metro police of land occupations in Macassar, Mitchells Plain and Kraaifontein demonstrates.

Martin Legassick
Emeritus Professor
University of the Western Cape

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