QQ Section, Khayalitsha, Cape Town 17 August 2007 | Abahlali baseMjondolo
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QQ Section, Khayalitsha, Cape Town 17 August 2007

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Pictures by Huffa Forbes-Cross

Report for AbM by Kerry Chance

Cape Town QQ Section Residents March to Demand Relocation

On 15 August, 2007, a hundred residents of the QQ section shack settlement marched through downtown Cape Town to demand immediate relocation. Marchers declared “No house, no land, no vote!” on the steps of the provincial parliament.

They called on Housing MEC Richard Dyantyi to accept a memorandum. He did not appear in person, but sent his spokesperson Vusi Tshose, who signed the memorandum and promised to deliver it to the MEC.

Coordinator Mzonke Poni read the memorandum, which demanded that all QQ residents be moved to suitable land with houses, water and toilets. The marchers stood listening, holding placards that read “1300 homes in QQ section have no toilets,” “We are tired of the mayor’s empty promises,” and “This city is only accountable to the rich.” They shouted “down with pit toilets and shacks, forward with houses and flush toilets.”

Located on a sandy patch of low-lying land in Khaylitsha, QQ section is subject to severe flooding each time it rains. Many residents said their homes were currently flooded, and had been for weeks. In a community of 1300 homes, none have access to toilets. About 620 people must share eight water taps. Poni said that QQ section was formed in 1987.

The QQ section march was met with heavy police presence. After handing over the memorandum, with Poni still speaking at the microphone, police attempted to break up the march, which was met with shouts of “down with apartheid police, down!”

Residents had been granted a permit to march to the provincial parliament. They had intended to then march to local government offices, but at the last minute, had been denied a permit for unspecified “security” reasons. The march ended with a heated argument between coordinators and police officers over the banning of the second half of the march.

The argument and the march were caught on tape by SABC 3. The Cape Argus also was on location and printed a brief article on 15 August (Cape Argus, News, Pg. 6, by Natasha Prince).

NOTES ON A VISIT TO QQ SECTION

17 August, 2007

QQ section and BM section – two neighboring shack settlements in Khaylitsha – are divided by a main road off the N2. BM section is located on municipal land. An estimated 4,000 families live in BM section, which is serviced by the municipality through rubbish collection, flush toilet access, some electrification and water taps. Many families in BM section were relocated to this land by the municipality with promises of RDP homes, but none have been built as yet. There are approximately 20 public flush toilets, some of which have fallen into disrepair and others of which have been “privatized,” that is, cleaned by particular families who lock them up after use. QQ residents do not use the BM toilets. For all of these reasons, many residents cross the N2 (which is just behind the rows of flush toilets) to use an open field. It is dangerous to cross because of the fast-moving traffic, and women have been assaulted and even raped while using the field.

QQ section is located on Eskom-owned land beneath numerous power lines. The QQ section does not have any services, with the exception of eight municipal water taps for approximately 650 families, some of which are broken and leaking (See Photo). Families have lived in QQ section at least since 1987. Year round, when it rains, QQ section floods, leaving many shacks submerged in several feet of water. The flooding renders some shacks unlivable and does irrevocable damage to furniture, flooring and other belongings. Residents who are not simply forced to abandon their homes must bail out their shacks with buckets; a week after this most recent flood, a man was still bailing out his shack every hour with a huge orange tub (See Photo). Another problem is that the rainwater does not drain, but remains in pools of fetid, standing water. These pools of water, huge still-standing puddles or little streams, lay between the shacks, sometimes surrounding them on all sides. Residents have built makeshift stepping stones from various materials (a hub cap, sheets of wood, a piece of tin roof) that have been secured in place with sand, but these nonetheless have to be rearranged each time the water drains or more flooding occurs. Many residents deal with the flooding in their homes by making a hole in the floor just in front of the shack door, to bail out the water underneath the floorboards. During the most recent flood, the water rose well above the floorboards, in some cases several feet, and these shacks were fitted with similar makeshift stepping stones (See Photo). It was noted that the flooding, combined with a lack of toilets, is particularly hazardous to young children who play between the shacks and in the water.

Eskom and the municipality have refused to assist in draining QQ. Some residents have procured pumps, the hoses of which run from the center of the settlement onto the street – the pump we saw had been running for a week and remains in about a foot of water. At the time, the pump had been placed in the area most affected by flooding called “The Waterfront,” an allusion to the upscale Cape Town mall and residential development with the same name (See Photo). Some families’ shacks, especially in this area, have been so flooded that they have been abandoned (See Photo). It is estimated that at least 120 people were left homeless in this last flood, and that is not counting those whose shacks were still in a foot of water.

In 2005, the municipal ANC government made guarantees that QQ section would be relocated in its entirety to a nearby piece of municipal land. QQ residents found this plan acceptable. When the DA was elected and the ANC replaced, however, the previous plan was scratched. More protests ensued until finally the DA agreed to a relocation plan. But, the DA said, they would only move 300 families, roughly half the community. Most QQ section residents rejected this plan, saying that they wanted to stay together and to benefit equally from the relocation. They also suggested that it was a political ploy by the DA to divide a politically mobilized community. Protests have continued since; several memorandums have been submitted to the municipal government, outlining both the problems in QQ section and their demand for all QQ residents to be moved to suitable land with houses and toilets.

Most recently, on 15 August, 2007, a hundred residents marched to the provincial parliament on Wale Street to submit a memorandum and demand immediate relocation. Marchers had intended to proceed to the local government office, but this part of the march was banned for unspecified “security” reasons. However, when the marchers returned to QQ section, they continued to march and burned tires in a road blockade. The following day, Mayor Helen Zille called a leader of the concerned QQ section residents, Mzonke Poni, and told him to cease all “violent protests.” She assured him an acceptable solution would be reached regarding QQ section relocation. A week earlier, the Mayor had visited the flooded settlement, walking through the pools of water from the main road to “The Waterfront.” Again, she assured residents that a plan would be made, and asked that no new “invasions” take place in QQ. The local councilor, who had until that point been largely unresponsive to residents of QQ section, also paid a visit after the Mayor. QQ section residents are committed to continuing their struggle for relocation.

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http://www.capeargus.co.za/index.php?fArticleId=3986627

Residents of stricken area demand relocation

August 16, 2007 Edition 1

Natasha Prince

Residents from Khayelitsha s QQ-Section declared: No land, no house, no vote as they stood at the steps of the provincial legislature in Wale Street yesterday.

About 100 protesters called on Housing MEC Richard Dyantyi to accept their memorandum of demands which included a call for immediate relocation.

The group said they were forced to share eight taps between 620 residents.

Among the marchers was Unique Selman, a QQ-Section resident for the past 10 years, who said she was confident that yesterday s march would send a serious message to the government.

My house is flooded. There are no toilets. I need to get a house, she said.

Protesters brandished placards that read, 1 300 homes in QQ-Section have no toilets , The city is only accountable to the rich and We are tired of the mayor s empty promises .

Supporting the protesters, who handed over the memorandum to Dyantyi s spokesman Vusi Tshose, were the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign and Development Action Group.

Mzonke Poni, a community worker in the area, said residents were really fed up and it was time for the government to help them.

We don t even have a bucket system which means we are living below the lowest standards, said Poni.

He said the area was formed in 1987.

Tshose arrived, signed the memorandum and promised to deliver it to Dyantyi.

The march ended with heated arguments between Anti-Eviction Campaign co-ordinators and police officers about last-minute changes the protesters had made to the route which would have allowed them to march to the Civic Centre. In the end, the police prevailed and the protest fizzled out.

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http://www.capeargus.co.za/index.php?fArticleId=3809929

Dragging delivery targeted
Protesters highlight pathetic conditions

May 02, 2007 Edition 1

Zama Feni

Parts of Lansdowne Road in Khayelitsha had to be closed yesterday as hundreds of residents from an informal settlement took to the streets, burning tyres and piles of rubbish, protesting against the city s dragging housing delivery.

Ndimphiwe Magweda, the leader of the protesters, who live in the unserviced QQ section in Site B, Khayelitsha, said yesterday their protest was aimed at highlighting our pathetic living conditions we have endured for years in this area .

The protests started yesterday morning and carried on sporadically through most of the day.

Magweda said some of their demands to the City of Cape Town included the speedy identification of a relocation site or the provision of basic services like electricity, toilets and the de-densification of the area to allow ambulances, police and other emergency vehicles to travel freely.

The residents protest comes as the city faces a growing backlog of close to 400 000 housing units.

Residents said they would be happy if mayor Helen Zille could address them and bring them an action plan on what the future holds for their area.

Recently, there is not a single city official who has come to address us here and clarify what our status is.

We had asked our councillor to forward our complaints to mayor Zille, but we do not seen any positive outcome at this stage.

Now we would like to see the mayor addressing us herself, he said.

Magweda said the land on which they lived was owned by Eskom and power lines hung over their shacks.

This is a risky situation, and more, the slope is very steep in some areas, shacks are congested and most of the bucket toilets that were provided by the city are now broken, he said.

But the city s housing portfolio head, Dan Plato, said the relocation of people of the QQ section was under way.

We met the residents and assured them that more than 300 families will be relocated to Bardale, a relocation site near Mfuleni – people should remember that the relocation is a massive process that involves thousands of people, said Plato.

He said construction workers were now busy installing bulk water and sewerage infrastructure in Bardale, in preparation for residents coming from various informal settlements.

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http://www.capeargus.co.za/index.php?fArticleId=3695910

Call for Metrorail to make rail sites squatter-proof

By ZAMA FENI

Staff Reporter

As the city council moves ahead with plans to relocate close to 2 000 Khayelitsha families living inside the rail reserves to a serviced site near Mfuleni, it has called on Metrorail to fence rail sites to prevent illegal aliens re-occupying the vacant land.

At present, we find ourselves in a position where we feel compelled to beef up the squatter control unit – a move that seeks to make sure that once a piece of illegally occupied piece of land is cleared, it is not occupied again, said Dan Plato, the city s housing portfolio head.

He said the removal of illegal occupants had become a huge burden for the city.

But as the chunks of land under the control of the city or government parastatals were illegally occupied, then state-linked institutions like Metrorail – whose large portions of land along the railway tracks are filled with unserviced and illegal shacks – should come on board and protect their land from invasion, he said.

Our next step would be to strengthen patrols on vacant council land. We cannot afford the lengthy and repetitive work of issuing eviction orders time and again – we have to get moving, Plato said.

After winning a court interdict late last year to remove the people living along a railway line in Khayelitsha, Metrorail was required to find alternative land for the squatters under the Prevention of Illegal Eviction and Occupation of Land Act.

Thereafter, an agreement was reached between the city, provincial Department of Transport and Public Works and Metrorail to find alternative accommodation.

Plato told the Cape Argus that the city was bracing itself to remove close to 4 000 families living in tiny shacks lining the Khayelitsha railway line; some in the fast-growing five year-old Enkanini informal settlement; more than 300 families in Nyanga s Kosovo informal settlement; and those living in the uninhabitable wetland of QQ section in Site B, Khayelitsha.

Enkanini (meaning by force ) is a rapidly growing informal settlement at the far end of Khayelitsha, between Baden Powell Drive and Monwabisi Beach.

It is home to thousands, mostly unemployed people.

A few weeks ago, residents of the QQ section staged a protest in-front of the local municipal offices, demanding that they be relocated to a serviced site as their living conditions, with neither water nor toilets, were too much to bear.

Plato said the city s construction workers were busy putting bulk infrastructure like water services, sewerage system and electricity into a site near Mfuleni.

Published on the web by Cape Argus on February 22, 2007.

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http://www.capeargus.co.za/index.php?fArticleId=3673757

Shack dwellers march for houses and services

By ZAMA FENI

Staff Reporter

Lansdowne Road in Khayelitsha was strewn with garbage yesterday as residents of the area s unserviced QQ Section in Site B took to the streets, calling for the city to make public all the housing lists.

The protestors also marched on the local municipal offices saying city and provincial government housing officials could easily corrupt the allocation of houses .

Among the demands presented to a city housing official were the immediate servicing of informal settlements with essential services such as access to clean water and adequate toilets, the publication of a housing list and that the city present its plan for the eradication of informal settlements.

We acknowledge that the city faces a huge housing backlog, but at least we could know where we stand now on the housing list, and whether there are any prospects of owning a house or relocation to a serviced site, said the group s spokesman, Mzonke Poni.

Anthea Houston, chief executive of the Development Ac- tion Group, an NGO focusing on housing delivery issues, said: Cape Town should brace itself for more protests by disillusioned shack dwellers. If the city and housing authorities don t bring forth practical plans to solving the crisis, the housing crisis might get out of control in 10 years to come.

Poni said that because of the influx of thousands of unemployed Eastern Cape people to the city each year, this tiny area (QQ Section), which originally had about 500 shacks, is now boasting a population of more than 3 000 – it s just yourself and your shack only, no other space .

The city has a housing backlog of over 350 000, and because of a myriad problems, which include limited land, budget constraints and lack of housing specialists for projects, it cannot cope with delivering its target of more than 2 000 units a year.

Mayor Helen Zille recently announced the appointment of three housing specialists who would speed up the provision of houses in the city .

We would not mind being relocated elsewhere, at least to a serviced site, said Poni.

Published on the web by Cape Argus on February 9, 2007. © Cape Argus 2007. All rights reserved.

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http://www.capeargus.co.za/index.php?fArticleId=3673597

Marchers call for houses, services

February 09, 2007 Edition 1

Zama Feni

Lansdowne Road in Khayelitsha was strewn with garbage yesterday as residents of the area s unserviced QQ Section in Site B took to the streets calling for the city to make public all the housing lists.

The protestors also marched on the local municipal offices saying city and provincial government housing officials could easily corrupt the allocation of houses .

Among the demands presented to a city housing official were the immediate servicing of informal settlements with essential services such as access to clean water and adequate toilets, the publication of a housing list and that the city present its plan for the eradication informal settlements.

We acknowledge that the city faces a huge housing backlog, but at least we could know where we stand now on the housing list, and whether there are any prospects of owning a house or relocation to a serviced site, said the group s spokesman, Mzonke Poni.

Anthea Houston, chief executive of the Development Ac-tion Group, a non-governmental organisation focusing on housing delivery issues said: Cape Town should brace itself for more protests by disillusioned shack dwellers.

If the city and housing authorities don t bring forth practical plans to solving the crisis, the housing crisis might get out of control in 10 years to come.

She said impatient citizens resorted to building shacks as they might not have any other way to get a roof over their heads.

Poni said that because of the influx of thousands of unemployed Eastern Cape people to the city each year, this tiny area (QQ Section), which originally had about 500 shacks, is now boasting a population of more than 3 000 – it s just yourself and your shack only, no other space .

The city has a housing backlog of over 350 000, and because of a myriad problems, which include limited land, budget constraints and lack of housing specialists for projects, it cannot cope with delivering its target of more than 2000 units a year.

Mayor Helen Zille recently announced the appointment of three housing specialists who would speed up the provision of houses in the city .

Poni said the land on which they live was owned by Eskom, so we are in a risky situation as power lines are hovering over our heads, the slope is very steep in some areas and it is prone to floods .

He called on the authorities to consider relocating them to a site near Mfuleni, a move apprently promised by former mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo and human settlements director Seth Maqethuka in 1995.

We would not mind being relocated elsewhere, at least to a serviced site, said Poni.