Backyarders find no joy with councillor

Backyarders refuse to stop occupying the sidewalks in Long Street, Scottsdene since last April.
Members of the Oostenberg Social Development Forum in Kraaifontein say they receive no assistance from their Ward 7 councillor, Grant Twigg, despite their many efforts to help the squatters on Long Street in Scottsdene.

Oostenberg Social Development Forum is a community group who represents the people living on the pavement in Long Street.

The group of people are backyarders who had illegally occupied the unfinished Sunset Village flats in April last year and were evicted by owners of the flats and private development company, Calgro M3, the very next day (“Illegal occupants evicted”, Northern News, April , 2018).

Founder of the Oostenberg Social Development Forum, Peter Syster, said it has been a year-long battle to help find homes for the people living in inhumane conditions on the street.

“We have written to councillor Twigg and handed him a memorandum but all he says is that they have to go back to where they come from,” he said.

He said Calgro M3 has subsequently made a piece of their land available for temporary housing for the people in their stockyard in Pocket 11, which includes containers and basic services such as water and toilet facilities.

But on Friday, February 8, Grant Twigg and law enforcement visited the site and ordered that the containers must be removed.

He said the land at the stockyard was still available for the residents but they feared that law enforcement might intervene again, so they continue living on the pavement until Calgro M3 gives the go-ahead.

Dennis Taaibosch, a member of the Oostenberg Social Development Forum, said the group had in the past had a good relationship with Mr Twigg, raising community issues such as crime and vagrancy and he would show some interest but he has no heart for the people in Long Street.

“He has shown his true colours, he does not really have a heart for our residents,” he said.

Wayne Williams, group executive director at Calgro M3 Consortium, confirmed that a piece of land had been made available but will no longer be available due to  some City officials who are objecting.

Outlining the reason for objecting he said: “These areas are not official designated temporary relocation sites but Calgro M3 has had the use of the one piece and the development rights of the second piece in Scottsdene.”

He said the families received a written agreement to live in the containers for three months but will no longer be able to have this opportunity because of the objections.

Mr Twigg, the newly elected Mayco member for urban management and Ward 7 councillor, said the families on the street were living there illegally.

“Myself and the City’s law enforcement have notified the people of their unlawful occupation and that they should vacate the road reserve but they chose to remain,” he said.

He said the people should return to where they had originally lived. “They cannot jump the queue for houses ahead of residents who are waiting patiently for housing opportunities in the area.”

He said they should register themselves on the City of Cape Town’s housing database.