Home, sweet home

LIZAHN WENTZEL

“For 18 years I prayed and waited and now, two days before my birthday, I finally have the keys to my own home,” said Fisantekraal backyarder Elizabeth Maans, a beneficiary of the Greenville Garden Cities housing project.

Ms Maans is one of four beneficiaries who received keys and title deeds to their new homes in Ikhala Street, Greenville, in Fisantekraal.

The project, which has been 10 years in the making, has now come to fulfilment, thanks to a partnership between Garden Cities, the City of Cape Town and the provincial government (“New Garden City taking shape in Fisantekraal”, Northern News, March 10).

Dignitaries including Premier Helen Zille, Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela and the City’s Mayco member for human settlements, Benedicta Van Minnen, attended the launch.

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The first phase of this approximately R294 million project, which is built on a public and private sector partnership, comprises of 868 Breaking New Ground (BNG) houses. To date, 38 units have been completed and the project is earmarked for completion by the end of 2017.

Ms Maans, who has been living as a backyard dweller in Fisantekraal for the past 18 years, could not contain her excitement as she unlocked the door to her home on Thursday.

“This is the best birthday present that I could have received. It is a privilege to finally have my own place, for me and my daughter Juane,” she said. Ms Maans celebrated her birthday on Saturday March 19.

Ms Van Minnen believes that this project will be a catalyst for improving the lives of the city’s most vulnerable residents.

“This project is an example of how the City wishes to manage its residential developments going forward by locating future residential areas for all income groups in relation to economic and work opportunities,” she said.

The project is a first for non-profit company Garden Cities and is regarded as a flagship development. The houses are built from Benex blocks, which are waterproof and lighter than conventional blocks.

Garden Cities chief executive officer, John Matthews, says the journey was not easy but added that they will keep at it. They hope to build 40 houses a month, in order to meet the 2017 deadline.

“The purpose of our company is to provide better housing and social conditions. We are in the business of developing communities,” he said.

Civil works for Phase one of the Greenville project has been completed. A total of 2 800 houses to accommodate BNG, social housing and finance-linked housing have been approved in terms of town planning regulations. The land on which the development is being built is owned by Garden Cities, while the provincial government and the City have provided subsidies towards the project.

The Archway Foundation, the corporate social investment branch of Garden Cities, donated R150 000 to the Fisantekraal Community Development Forum (CDF), to be used for sports development.

“We believe that sports unify communities and therefore hope this will bring the community together,” said Archway Foundation chairperson, Myrtle February.

Fisantekraal CDF chairman, Chumani Kobena, said the donation would go a long way in addressing challenges in the area. “The launch of this project is the break of a new dawn for the community. My heart is filled with joy,” he said.

Mr Chumani vowed to ensure this project would leave a “lasting legacy for the community of Fisantekraal”.

Ms Zille thanked Garden Cities for their dedication to the project. “We need to work in partnership with communities, organisations and businesses. We (government) are here to give you a ladder, even hold it for you, but you have to climb it yourself,” she said.

Standing at the front door to her new home, housing beneficiary Rosiena Marthinus said having her own house felt “unreal”.

She had been waiting 20 years for a place to call home.

Ms Marthinus lived on farms with her husband for 35 years, later moving to Fisantekraal.

She was widowed last year, but now look forward to moving into her own house.

“The first thing I am going to do is put up my curtains and make my place nice,” she said excitedly .