Category Archives: Sandiso Phaliso

The New Age: Gugulethu backyarders left out in the cold

Gugulethu backyarders left out in the cold

A group of Gugulethu backyarders are fuming after human settlement MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela failed to meet them on Sunday to iron out allegations of corruption in an Eersterivier housing project.

Madikizela had agreed to a meeting with 52 backyarders who were part of an initial group of 300 backyarders who in 2001 started pooling their savings in order to obtain houses in a People’s Housing Project.

Initially calling themselves the Gugulethu RDP Housing Project, they appointed Pumla Dlokolo as their chairperson and approached the provincial housing department with their savings in 2006.

Dlokolo had told them that R2500 was required for a two-room house, and up to R5000 for a larger house.

Upon their submission to the housing department, then under MEC Richard Dyantyi, ervens were obtained in Eerste Rivier and an 821-unit housing project, named the Our Pride Housing Project, was given the go-ahead; the first phase was completed at the end of last year.

However, 52 of the original 300 Gugulethu backyarders have still not received houses.

It has emerged that the housing department never required money from beneficiaries to be paid over.

When enquiries were made a month ago, Madikizela’s spokesperson, Bruce Oom, said all beneficiaries were expected to contribute was “sweat equity”, meaning they should play a part in the building of their houses.

He said no money had been received from Dlokolo. The 52, who now call themselves the Gugulethu Concerned Backyarders, claim Dlokolo kicked them out of the project, but had never returned their money.

Nocekisani Phangalele, 43, said she was kicked out of the project by Dlokolo a “few months” before the handing over of houses in December last year.

The backyarders claim Dlokolo has also replaced their names on the beneficiary list with those of friends and family who are now living in the Our Pride Housing Project, and is selling vacant houses and renting out others for R1000 a month.

Dlokolo has admitted that seven of her family have benefited from the housing project, but said they had applied “just like everyone else”. Asked why the 52 backyarders were not on the beneficiary list, she said “they were expelled from the project because they failed to adhere to the constitution of the organisation,” adding: “We pleaded with them many times and then we decided to expel them.”

A month ago, Dlokolo said she was paying money back to the backyarders and “most of them have received their money”.

However, on Sunday the backyarders said they had not received a cent from Dlokolo. “I have not received any money from Pumla,” said backyarder Malusi Msesi.

Yesterday Dlokolo said that she was reimbursing backyarders.

“People are claiming their money and it is given to them. The procedure is that people must bring their deposit slips for proof that they have been paying before money can be transferred back to their account.”

Meanwhile, the group strongly criticised Madikizela for contacting them “at the last minute” to tell them he would not meet with them.

“They are doing this deliberately to provoke us,” said Msesi.

“This is not the first time they have not attended to our meeting although they have promised to come. We are not satisfied the way Madikizela is handling us.”

Oom said “our team” offered to invite the relevant project manager and a contractor’s representative to “help bring clarity to the housing issue”.

However, he said the officials were “unfortunately” not available and this was communicated to the Gugulethu backyarders before the weekend.

“At no stage was minister Madikizela committed to attend or scheduled to attend the meeting,” said Oom.

But he stressed that the department remained committed to engaging with the Gugulethu group to find solutions to their housing needs. – West Cape News

Shack fire leaves 6 000 people homeless in Masiphumelele, Fish Hoek

Cape fire wreaks havoc
03-May-2011 | Elvis Nyelenzi

ABOUT 6,000 residents of Cape Town were left homeless when a fire swept through their informal settlement on Sunday night destroying shacks

The residents of Masiphumelele, near Fish Hoek, said it was one of the worst fires they had ever experienced.

One person was burnt beyond recognition, while another sustained serious burns.

Community leader Mpilikhaya Nyumbana told Sowetan that half the shacks and houses in the area had been wiped out by the eight-hour blaze.

“The fire started at 11pm on Sunday night. Nobody knows how it started because it started at the back of a wetland in those bushes,” Nyumbana said.

“It is so wet there that we can’t understand how a fire started.”

He said 30 fire engines had tried to put out the blaze, but did not succeed.

“It blazed until 7am today (Monday). We found one dead person underneath a shack and we don’t know who it is.

“Nobody can tell if it was a man or a woman,” a distressed Nyumbana said.

ANC provincial chairperson Songezo Mjongile slammed the DA over the fire, saying because Masiphumelele did not have an internal road the fire engines had been unable to drive between the shacks and stop the fire.

“This is a catastrophe. It looks like Kosovo here. The worst part is that at 2am the fire had not yet reached the shacks and it could have been put out if there was a road for the fire engines to pass,” Mjongile said.

Social development MEC Patricia de Lille agreed that the fire spread because the fire engines could not get into the densely populated area, but accused the ANC of playing politics.

She said at a public meeting yesterday that the city would help the residents rebuild their shacks and allow for fire breaks in between the houses.

Mother of three children, Nomveliso Mziba, had been given four wooden poles and four pieces of zinc by her friends and had started rebuilding her shack early yesterday morning.

Homeless fire victims refuse to move

May 3 2011 at 10:00am
By Sandiso Phaliso

Residents whose shacks were burnt to the ground in Masiphumelele on Monday refused to move to alternative land while the City of Cape Town levelled the area before they rebuilt their shacks.

The City asked residents to wait before rebuilding their shacks so the informal settlement could have some sort of street system to enable emergency services to move freely in case of another fire.

Emergency services could not get to the fire because of the density of the informal settlement.

After inspecting the fire, Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato told a gathering of local community leaders that only 600 shacks could be accommodated in the area and that alternative land would be provided to others.

This sparked anger among some residents, who wanted to know what criteria would be used to identify the 600.

The residents wanted Plato to order that those who were not among the 600 be allowed to place their shacks on an open space adjacent to where the fire occurred.

“We will discuss that later,” Plato said but residents said they wanted answers immediately.

Akhona Mangaliso, 42, said the “people are refusing to stop rebuilding their shacks unless Mayor Plato gives them surety that they have a right to use the open land”.

Mangaliso said people were afraid the city might destroy their shacks if there was no written land-usage agreement.

Resident Nobesuthu Mntuyedwa, 45, who lost everything in the fire, said she hoped to be part of the first 600.

“The other land would take longer because we have to wait for the government to approve it first. If I wait, where would my children stay?

City risk disaster management spokesman Wilfred Solomons-Johannes said: “Despite the request by the city to clear and level the site before construction commences, the community proceeded with the erection of structures.

”This has hampered the recovery operations and the layout for emergency vehicular access routes within the informal settlement following the fire.” – Cape Times

Cape Times: Do not vote, shack dwellers told

Do not vote, shack dwellers told

April 28 2011

A SHACK-DWELLERS’ movement, Abahlali Basemjondolo, has urged people not to vote in the May 18 local government election because “politicians are self-centred”.

“By voting you are giving away your powers to politicians. Your vote is not your voice and politicians use poor people as a ladder to enhance the rich and their interests,” its chairman, Mzonke Poni, said to loud cheers at a meeting of about 100 people in a tent in Khayelitsha’s QQ section.

Abahlali had called the meeting to look into what caused shack fires, how adequate government intervention programmes were and how best residents could react in a fire, but speakers instead voiced concern about a lack of service delivery.

Community members demanded that the City of Cape Town provide electricity to their shacks to prevent the loss of life and property.

With Freedom Day yesterday, Poni said: “The people living in informal settlements cannot celebrate 17 years into democracy because there is nothing to celebrate.”

He urged the crowd not to “liaise” with political parties and to hold back from taking part in the election.

Although he acknowledged every individual’s right to cast a vote on May 18, he discouraged those who were enthusiastic about voting, declaring: “The freedom we have is so limited. People are still living in appalling conditions.”

Referring to residents who were leaving the ANC to join the DA, Poni said: “People are not joining these political parties because they have confidence in them, but because they are disappointed with empty promises.

“Politicians should be ashamed that old-age people in the townships still use plastics when they want to relieve themselves because services to the people are lacking.”

Another speaker, Loyiso Mfuku, the chairman of the Mandela Park Backyarders Association, told the crowd that “if politicians cannot tell us what they will be doing in the next five years, we should not vote. As long as people don’t govern, there is no democracy”. Nolusindiso Ketani, 29, whose baby was permanently disabled by injuries sustained in a shack fire that swept through Langa’s Joe Slovo informal settlement in 2005, could not hold back tears.

She said that next week her family and neighbours will gather again in commemoration of the tragedy. Today, the six-year-old Indiphile Ketani’s right side is not functioning properly and he cannot go to school. He has been in and out of Red Cross Children’s Hospital 10 times already, she said.

Another speaker, controversial pastor Xola Skosana, who made headlines for saying Jesus was HIV-positive, said the electorate should think twice before casting votes.

“Any government that allows its people to continuously live in shanty conditions is an evil government. Why vote if the people still live in houses with broken windows and doors, leaking roofs and littered streets?” asked Skosana.

He said until the government had put its house in order, people should not think about voting.

The crowd, led by Skosana, marched through some Khayelitsha streets, singing and holding placards and photos of shack fires, and returned to the tent to light candles in remembrance of those who had lost their lives in the fires.

West Cape News: Cape Town set for month of protests

Cape Town set for month of protests

Damage to street lights as result of ongoing service delivery protests has caused havoc with traffice and is costing the city hundreds of thousands of rand in repairs. Photo: Sandiso Phaliso/WCN

In response to a call by anti-eviction campaign group Abahlali BaseMjondolo protests in Cape Town township have caused hundreds of thousands of rands damage and resulted in a Golden Arrow bus being torched.Replacing the bus alone would could R1million, said Golden Arrow spokesperson Bronwen Dyke.

Residents of informal settlements have been called to protest against the slow pace of service delivery by the activist group, ahead of a planned rally on October 28 when a memorandum of grievances will be handed over to Parliament.

Khayelitsha’s Lansdowne Fire Station suffered R15 000 worth of damages after protesters pelted it with rocks on Monday, shattering glass and damaging fire engines.

Traffic lights, street signs have been vandalized and vendor’s stalls in Philippi have been set alight.

City of Cape Town communication manager Charles Cooper said the money spent fixing damaged property could have used for service delivery.

He described the protest action as “crazy”.

“I don’t know what the people are trying to achieve when they damage and vandalise government property,” said Cooper.

He said damages ran into hundreds of thousands of rand, but actual figures would be released in a month’s time.

Abahlali BaseMjondolo Western Cape chairperson Mzonke Poni said the protests were occurring in Cape Town, KwaZulu Natal and the Eastern Cape.

On Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights last week protestors burnt tyres and refuse in the streets, blockaded main roads and strew garbage across roads.

Further protests are expected this week and sporadically throughout the month.

Regarding the cost of damages, Poni said they “could not becompared with the cost of damages that affects us on a daily basis”.

“Everyday people die in shack fires caused by a lack of electricity in informal settlements, and people are victims of communicable infections such as TB which are caused by unhygienic conditions that people live with on a daily basis.

“We are saying no one can put a value in a human life.”

Poni said he congratulates the residents of Khayelitsha’s Enkani informal settlement for closing Baden Powel drive last week, residents of TR informal settlement for closing Mew Way road, RR informal settlement for closing Lansdowne road for more than three days, and Philippi residents who have been consistently blockading roads in the area.

Khayelitsha Police spokesperson Anneke Van der Vyver said seven people had been arrested in Khayelitsha in connection with the protests that started on October 1, while Nyanga police station spokesperson Ntomboxolo Sitshitshi said eight suspects had been arrested in Philippi.

Charges included public violence and damage to property. – Sandiso Phaliso, West Cape News

West Cape News: Claims of illegal RDP sales in Mandela Park

Claims of illegal RDP sales in Mandela Park

WestCape News

While RDP house allocations have been the source of protest, such as here in Mandela Park in September last year, investigations find that up to 80 percent of them are not occupied by the rightful owners. Photo: Siyabonga Kalipa/WCN

A Mandela Park resident has added fuel to the fire of claims that the housing allocation process in the area is rigged – claiming that she has been involved in the illegal sales of RDP houses.

The Mandela Park housing development in Khayelitsha involves the development of 100 RDP houses for beneficiaries from the provincial housing waiting list.But construction has been stopped four times in 2010 by backyarders who are demanding 50% of houses in the area.

The backyarders have also alleged that houses are being given to friends and relatives of local politicians.On Tuesday last week, backyarders again brought construction to a standstill. So far backyarders have occupied 53 of the 100 houses.

Backyarder’s association spokesperson Mandla Xintolo said backyarders had decided to stop construction of houses because Western Cape MEC of Human Settlements Bonginkosi Madikizela had not kept a promise that he would meet with them.

Meanwhile Ndileka Thwala, 35, a resident of Mandela Park, claimed this week that since the development had started a decade ago, she and a group of four others had been involved in the sale of 20 RDP houses.

She said prices of the houses ranged between R5,000 and R11,000, depending on the size of the plot and how far the house had been developed.

Houses that were sold included cases when it was known that a beneficiary had died or if beneficiaries lived in informal settlements.

Once money was paid, she said it would be arranged through the local South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) structures for that person’s name to be included on the beneficiary list.

Thwala, who is confined to bed through sickness, said she was revealing the information because she believed she had been cursed for her involvement. “My body is burning. I hardly walk because my legs are swollen. I have been cursed,” she said.

She said she hoped the curse would go away if she revealed what was going on.

Xintolo, who has already met Thwala and knows about her story, said the backyarders welcomed the confession.

“We are not going to rest until we get all the people who have been defrauding houses here.”

Regarding the construction stoppage, ward councillor Ryder Mkutswana said he would ask Madikizela to meet with the backyarders so building could continue.

“I understand the plight of the backyarders, but stopping the development will not help,” said Mkutswana.

Madikizela said his department has concluded a survey that was launched last month in Mandela Park and Samora Machel respectively to investigate if people occupying RDP houses were the rightful owners or not.

A preliminary investigation that was confirmed by Samora Machel councillor Monwabisi Mbaliswano had last month – a week after the investigations started – found that 80% of the 4005 houses in Samora Machel were illegally occupied.

The investigations was launched after Mbaliswano and his committee found out that many families who had been allocated RDP houses sold them before the national Human Settlement Department’s moratorium on the sale of state-subsidised houses by beneficiaries had lapsed.

Mbaliswano had said residents somehow sold the RDP houses because they were poorly built or to raise money for emergencies such as funerals.

“The survey is done and we are busy looking at how we are going to deal with the outcomes.

“Because the findings of the survey are too technical, advice from our legal team says we must first with deal with the survey internally before making any comments to the media,” said Madikizela.

Regarding Thwala coming clean about her selling RDP houses in Mandela Park, Madikizela said “we welcome people coming forward with any information about housing corruption and the sale of RDP houses.

“We cannot keep building houses for the poor and those houses don’t arrive to the rightful beneficiaries.” – Sandiso Phaliso, West Cape News