Residents feel sidelined by housing project

Kuils River residents protest over housing.

A group of Kuils River residents feeling sidelined by a state housing project has threatened to “burn tyres and march” until it gets them a foot in the door.

Highbury Phase 3 is a Department of Human Settlements project with 264 RDP houses, 100 GAP houses and 100 military veteran houses.

But some locals , who claim to have been on the City’s housing database for many years, are angry.

They say they heard in a sub-council meeting last November that the project they have held out so much hope for won’t benefit them.

Residents from Kalkfontein, Sarepta and Highbury are now launching a new organisation, Kuils River Concerned Citizens (KRCC), to fight for their inclusion in the project and the housing rights of all residents.

Yolanda Tala, a member of the group, said there were Kuils River backyarders who had been on the waiting list for years but had been overlooked by the project.

She claimed there had been no public participation.

“This is when we sat in the (sub-council) meeting, only to find that we will not benefit from this project.”

According to her, people from Wesbank are beneficiaries of Highbury Phase 3.

“When we heard this, we, as residents, decided to start our own group. We requested a beneficiary list from our ward councillor and the Department of Human Settlements and set up meetings with them. None of the meetings were attended, and our councillor blatantly ignored our emails,” she said.

Ms Tala said she would fight for the housing rights of the Kuils River community until they got justice.

“All we demand is that our backyarders from Kalkfontein, Sarepta and Highbury, who have been on the waiting list for many years, become owners.

“We also demand that our councillor stands up for people in his community and treat everyone fairly,” she said.

Benny van der Westhuizen said he would continue protesting until the community had been heard.

“In order for our voices to be heard, we will burn tyres and march down our streets, but we will not damage the newly built houses because other families, residents and our own families must benefit from it,” he said.

Johannes Pula, one of the founders of the KRCC, said: “Overpopulation of schools, the increase of crime and the increase of traffic on our roads have not been thought about. Officials have not followed proper procedures.”

Mr Pula said he had called for more than 10 meetings with the Ward 19 councillor but had not had a response.

The councillor, he said, had called a meeting with KRCC in late November but it had been scheduled for 4pm.

“At 4pm I am still at work, and many other members are also working. An ideal time for this meeting would have been at 7pm,” he said.

“We, as the KRCC, will protest in the community and get as many residents involved as possible. No one has taken our concerns seriously or given us an opportunity to express those concerns,” he said.

Ward 19 councillor Ricardo Saralina accused some of the residents of harassing and assaulting him. “I enjoy meeting with people in my community, but I veer away from the vulgar groups,” he said.

Organised meetings had turned violent, he said.

People from both Wesbank and Sarepta were beneficiaries of the housing projects, he said.

“People who have been on the housing list since 1996 and before… they will be beneficiaries of this project. Not those who have been on the waiting list for the last few years. These are the people fighting for the houses,” he said.

Ntomboxolo Makoba-Somdaka, the spokesperson for Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela, said the project benefited those on the City of Cape Town’s housing list, and the GAP houses were for those who might not necessarily be on that list but met the criteria for that housing model: they had to be SA citizens, 18 years and older, not earn more than R3500 a month, have dependants and not have benefited previously from a state subsidy. Those over the age of 60 could not apply for the GAP houses.

Those living on the pavements in the Wesbank area and other areas in Kuils River had been prioritised for Highbury Phase 3 including members from the KRCC, she said.

“There is a planned allocation for next month, and beneficiaries will be informed closer to the time.”

She said the department had consulted surrounding communities while the project had still been in the planning phase and public participation had followed.

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