State subsidised houses in Cape Town’s Du Noon Township are being extended onto designated public spaces and alterations appear to violate health and safety regulations.
And since Du Noon was established under the Less Formal Township Establishment Act (LFTEA), Act 113 1991, the National Building Regulations do not apply to the township, with responsibility for planning and regulation appearing to fall into a gap between local and provincial government.
The City’s Building Inspectorate “has no jurisdiction in these areas”, said City of Cape Town acting director of planning and building development management Marius Crous.
This meant that the structural characteristics, quality and general safety of extended RDP houses were not being inspected.
“More and more people are extending RDP houses onto pavements and the roads are becoming smaller and smaller and chances of these houses collapsing are very high,” said ANC ward Councillor Lubabalo Makeleni, adding that some double storey buildings were visibly skew.
Makeleni said in some places there was no longer a pavement as RDP houses had been extended onto them. He said young children were thus forced to walk on busy roads and in danger of getting hit by speeding motorists.
He said the situation compelled him to ask the city’s planning department what they were doing to ensure building regulation compliance, but was told Du Noon Township residents did not need permission to build as construction was not regulated.
One resident who has extended his house onto the pavement is Ntandazo Zekelo, 36, who bought his house RDP in 2000.
Zekelo, a husband and father of four children, then bought his neighbour’s house last year. He has consolidated the two plots and extended his original RDP house to a three bedroom house.
Asked why he built onto the pavement, he said his plot of land was simply not big enough.
Regarding building plans, he said he planned his house himself and could not submit plans to the city as he did not have money.
“I couldn’t afford to take my plans to the city,” said Zekelo.
A neighbour who only agreed to speak on condition of anonymity said there were no pavements available in Du Noon, people did as they pleased and the authorities did not care.
She said people even placed makeshift shipping containers on public space and no action was taken against them.
“People just build as they want,” she said.
Makeleni estimated that 80% of the pavements in the township had been built on.
Crous said Du Noon was established in terms of the LFTEA and the township was incorporated into the Milnerton Zoning Scheme as Informal Residential.
Despite promises last week by the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Management Planning’s spokesperson that responses to questions would be provided, none were provided. — Peter Luhanga