The City and the province won’t expropriate land for housing

The land where Siqalo is situated is owned by Ross Demolition. Photo by Ashraf Hendricks/GroundUp

The City of Cape Town and the Western Cape provincial government has stated that it will not buy land from Ross Demolition to build houses for Siqalo residents as the land is “not fit for human habitation”.

Mitchells Plain, Cape Town, South Africa

The Western Cape government and the City of Cape Town say they will not buy the land owned by Ross Demolition where the Siqalo community is currently settled.

Both spheres of government echoed the sentiment at a meeting held in Mitchell’s Plain over the weekend.

In attendance were community representatives from Siqalo and Mitchell’s Plain.

The provincial government called the meeting to clarify issues regarding the land following protests by the Siqalo community demanding better services from the City.

Siqalo protestors closed Jakes Gerwel Drive making it difficult for motorists from Mitchell’s Plain to pass by on their way to and from work. This sparked tensions between the Mitchell’s Plain and Siqalo residents.

 There has been a counter-protest against Siqalo residents from some sections of Colorado, Rondevlei and Wildwood that has been marked by racist insults directed towards Siqalo residents. The tension between the  ‘Blacks’ in Siqalo and ‘Coloureds’ in broader Mitchell’s Plain have remained high.

“I am not here for any political party or for quick fix on the Siqalo issue. The provincial government and the City of Cape Town cannot buy the land owned by Ross Demolition because it is not suitable for human habitation. Siqalo residents were informed [that] we are not willing to buy the land. That is true,” said Bonginkosi Madikizela, the MEC for Human Settlement.

According  to the MEC, the government is taking the delivery of basic services in Siqalo seriously.

“We have had several attempts to engage the landowner so that we can provide additional services to the people of Siqalo but the landowner is reluctant,” he said.

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Plans to relocate Siqalo residents are already in place but Madikizela could not disclose where the community would permanently be settled.

“Minister [sic], could you clarify where you will be relocating us to because if we go far from Siqalo that will bring more problems to us?” asked Monwabisi Futshane from Siqalo.

Madikizela hinted it will be on pockets of unoccupied land that are within reach of Siqalo.

Shahiem van Nelson from Mitchell’s Plain wanted to know what plans there are for backyarders from Mitchell’s Plain.”The moment you relocate Siqalo community, Mitchell’s Plain backyarders will explode demanding same treatment,” he said.

Madikizela assured both communities that the government is looking at both constituencies at the same time.

“We are looking into both communities but we have no mercy on those people who may have benefited some time and decided to sell their houses. We are soon going to start profiling people in both communities so that we can tell who is to benefit,” said the MEC.

The community raised shortfalls of the housing policy.

“Minister this idea of saying only people earning R3,500 and below will benefit makes people lazy. Some people opt to leave employment for a house so can you look into that,” said Reverend Greg Fick from Mitchell’s Plain.

The MEC informed the meeting that the government is revising the policy. He also promised that the government would engage Ross Demolition to allow the City access to the land in order to provide more services to the Siqalo community.

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Both communities were tasked to form a steering committee that will work with the government.

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About Bernard Chiguvare 56 Articles
Originally from Zimbabwe and since 2014 I been contributing to different publications in South Africa. My area of focus as a reporter is on the rights of vulnerable communities and foreign nationals in any country.