Category Archives: government lies

Sunday Tribune: No parties in these marquees

No parties in these marquees

April 12, 2009 Edition 1

Noelene Barbeau

It is 4pm and the tent community in Joyce Road, Sea Cow Lake, is beginning to stir. Naked little boys are playing in the dirty sand while their mothers prepare supper on paraffin stoves in their cramped marquee.

The gas stove smell fills the air of the tiny living area. There are three marquees in total: two for the women and children and one for the men. The tents face the road, while across the open space, on council land in Joyce Road, some have built informal houses.

This land is across the freeway from the tent community’s previous home – private land in Peters Road in Springfield Industrial Park, from which they were evicted.

In November 2007, residents in the Bakerville Gardens and Sea Cow Lake area awoke to find a tent community on their doorstep in the once-open municipal space in Joyce Road. The ratepayers’ association complained to the ward councillor that they were not consulted on this move.

Ward councillor Preeth Ramchurran said the municipality stepped in to help the informal community out of a sense of morality. While consultation was important, it was a quick decision made in an emergency.

Robin Lalla, chairman of the Bakerville Ratepayers’ Association, has had enough after years of communication with the eThekwini Municipality. He said the municipality told them it would be a two-month temporary measure until homes were found for the informal settlement.

Nearly two years later, the situation has not changed. The tents have now become an eyesore. Clothes are hung on lines behind the tents facing the road, or on the fence across the road next to the freeway.

The land is shared with a private bus transport company.

A water pipe runs underneath the sand and one tap is shared by 98 families.

The tent residents complain of the unbearable heat in summer and the cold in winter. The women and children say they are afraid because snakes and rats sometimes invade their tents. Security at night is a concern. Simphiwe “Douglas” Mpiti, a member of the tent community committee that liaises with the municipality, said police had arrested men just outside the property recently.

Lalla said there had been meetings with the municipality and complaints sent to ANC chief whip Fawzia Peer about the constant unavailability of the ward councillor to discuss this particular problem.

“The council made promises, but this is now a waste of time. These are just talk shops. There is no upkeep of the area and the conditions are appaling. Waste is sometimes dumped in the stream alongside the municipal property,” he said.


The blame for this particular problem is passed on.

The Sea Cow Lake residents blame the municipality for lack of consultation, not speedily moving the tent community as promised, and not stepping in when people were illegally living on private property.

The tent community blames the municipality for not moving them to proper homes, as promised.

And the municipality blames the tent community for “shifting the goal posts” by refusing to move to the area ear-marked for them.

It appears the municipality was not caught unawares by this problem. According to DA councillor and member of the Housing, Cleansing and Solid Waste municipal committee, Dennis Colin Gaillard, the issue of the Peters Road informal settlement came before the committee in March and April 2007.

According to committee documents, one of the owners of the Peters Road property, Bridoon Trade and Invest, submitted a proposal to the council outlining its intention to develop its property for commercial and light industrial use.

The company pledged R50 000 towards temporary accommodation for the affected families on this property, saying it could be used for building materials for temporary shelter.

The company also said it had already contributed building materials valued at R35 000, which could be used in the first phase of the building project.

According to the committee documents, this informal settlement was ear-marked for relocation to the Housing Unit’s Informal Settlement Programme.

At a meeting, the municipality suggested moving the community to vacant land across the N2 freeway, along Centre Road in Sea Cow Lake.

“The relocation of the Peters Road settlement on to state land represents a consolidation strategy by the council to more effectively manage the huge number of informal settlements within the municipality,” read the municipal document.

Gaillard said both times the committee did not pass this proposal. Ward councillor Ramchurran said the building materials the company donated turned out to be inferior, but the residents accepted them.

The matter went to court and the informal residents were evicted. The Legal Resource Centre appealed this eviction, but lost the appeal and thereafter the council moved the residents to Joyce Road.

Ramchurran said the council was paying for the tents, water and toilets.

Faizel Seedat, speaking for the municipality, said the residents would be moved in two months’ time to a transit facility site in Avoca.