BCMM wants more time to sort out East Bank housing crises
The Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality (BCMM) held an urgent public engagement with concerned parties of the Fynbos2/East Bank RDP Housing crises to find solutions following a week of inhumane evictions in the pouring rain, shooting between the police and residents which then led to 20 houses being petrol-bombed on Wednesday and Thursday.
The area is currently cordoned off as a crime scene and all illegal dwellers have been evicted. In the absence of Mayor Xola Pakati, Deputy Mayor, Zoliswa Matana and BCMM leadership lamented land availability challenges, which they claim to be the major cause of this impasse between illegal dwellers and rightful beneficiaries.
Of 960 houses that were meant to be built in Fynbos 2, 600 have been completed and only a handful of owners have been given the right to occupy due to dwellers. Close to a hundred stand incomplete following a conflict that began in June 2019, when BCMM first issued a court order for illegal occupants to move. 300 families had moved into incomplete houses, claiming that they have been on the waiting list for far too long.
“No one has the right to occupy a house that does not legally belong to them. We do not like the accusation that we gave houses to amaXhosa over coloured people. We are one people. The issue is we are not able to secure enough land to build for everyone at the same time,” said Matana. She promised that they will double-check their systems and ascertain who exactly are the rightful owners of the RDP houses.
“Please give us time to find out what is happening and how to move on from all this damage that has been caused this week,” Matana pleaded and called for calmness.
According to BCMM, there are 7 915 approved beneficiaries with others undergoing an assessment process for approval, a system administered by the province and national Department of Human Settlements.
The projects for beneficiaries are at various implementation stages. A further 12 011 people have not yet been approved are on the waiting list. A total of 288 people in the approved list are over the age of 60, at 30% of the total amount of applicants. Some of the illegal occupiers are on the approved list and some are not.
Delays, according to Samkelo Ngwenya, spokesperson for BCMNM, are caused by various reasons such as the shift of focus from the government. “The National Housing Needs register in BCMM alone is at 86 000 prospective beneficiaries, which will cost billions of rands. The Housing Code of 2009 says a person from age 18 and above is eligible to get an RDP house.
The policy has not shifted and BCMM is mindful of the fact that the elderly and indigent are prioritised through a special needs criterion of 5% to each project implemented,” said Ngwenya. Masiza Mazizi, the spokesperson for the Department of Human Settlement in the province, said the elderly, indigent, child-headed families, military veterans and people with disabilities must be prioritised by the Metro.
“Unfortunately, we cannot intervene in this matter as BCMM gets funding from the national office, but the MEC does hold quarterly meetings to advise on simpler approaches and get an update on progress,” he said.