Category Archives: relocation

Sunday Tribune: ‘Let them go to hell’

‘Let them go to hell’

July 26 2009 at 10:19AM

By Doreen Premdev

“If they don’t want the houses, then let them go to hell.”

This is what eThekwini Municipality’s head of housing said at an exco meeting this week.

Councillor Nigel Gumede was referring to the families living in the Tara Road Rainbow Barracks, in Merewent.

The 110 families have been given the option to move into the new Landsdowne Road Housing Project in Merewent, but most have refused, saying the housing development is shoddy and being built on swampy ground.

Gumede told the Tribune that he was angry and “pissed off” with the attitude of the Rainbow Barracks residents.
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Earlier in the week he told DA councillor Colin Gaillard, at an exco meeting, that the municipality was not forcing anyone to occupy the new homes, adding that Rainbow Barracks residents wanted “preferential” treatment.

“Gumede is a community worker. The way he spoke about poor people who are desperate for a decent home is shameful,” said Gaillard.

“When it was mentioned at the exco meeting that more money was needed to complete this housing project, I raised the issue that the cost of building this new housing development was too high.”

Gaillard said the building was being built on stilts, because the site was swampy.

In June, he said, the foundation collapsed twice. The most recent incident was last week.

He said he tried to explain to the council that the project was over budget, as it would now cost R48-million for 128 units.

He said the initial cost of the project was R35-million, but R13-million was now needed to sort out the water drainage problem.

When contacted by the Tribune on Friday, Gumede said he stood by his statement.

“People who pose as community leaders poison the minds of residents and are standing in the way of completing this project,” he said.

“People from the Rainbow Barracks are agitated because they have been waiting for homes for so many years. The government is now giving them homes, so why won’t they take them?

“We will not give any community preferential treatment. I will say it again, those who don’t want the houses can go to hell, I don’t care about them.

“They will never again be a priority on the housing list.”

He said the project had been expected to be completed by the end of the year, but owing to delays he was unable to say when it would be finished.

Chairman of the Crisis Care Line, Mansoor Emam, who represents the people of Rainbow Barracks, said 80 of the 110 families were refusing to move to the new development.

He said the homes the families were living in now were 52m2 to 59m2, while the new homes were 45m2.

“Some families have 15 people living in a one-bedroom unit. The cost of the development is R48-million, each tiny unit costs R375 000. People have been living at the Rainbow Barracks for 36 years. They were promised better housing by the old government. The last time there were any renovations was in 1991. Over the years it has deteriorated into a squatter settlement,” Emam said.

Ward 68 councillor Ebrahim Shaik said he had not been consulted and was not involved in the project.

“It is almost as if the municipality is looking for a new dumping ground for these people. They deserve better homes, they waited 36 years.”

Zelda Kenny and her family have been living at the Rainbow Barracks for 24 years. She said she would not move to the new project.

“I have six people living in a one-bedroom unit. How can we all be expected to move into a smaller unit? If we move our furniture into that place there will be no room for us.

“People here have waited for more than three decades for houses, and now they want to force us into houses the size of a chicken coop,” said Kenny.

Pearly Johnson moved into the barracks on August 4, 1974, and she said she had made a home for herself there.

“I am not moving to that swamp. They can keep their homes, I will stay here. I deserve a decent home and just because I am poor I will not be bullied into taking just anything,” she said.

Raymond and Ann Fynn feel the same way.

They refuse to move into a smaller home.

“Eight people live in this unit,” Ann said.

“How will I accommodate my children in that small house? No, thank you, I don’t want that house. I would rather live in this hell than move into something far worse.”