News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Saturday September 23rd 2017

Cape Town backyarders demand action on housing policy

Peter Luhanga

Ahead of elections next month, Cape Town backyard dwellers – reported to number 180,000 – have demanded that the current housing database of the City of Cape Town be investigated, that corrupt officials be “ironed out” and that the housing waiting list be “more transparent and open to public scrutiny”.

The backyard dwellers have also appealed to provincial and local government structures to develop a housing policy that will address their needs.

About 150 backyard dwellers, representing 13 backyard dweller organisations, handed over a memorandum to Western Cape MEC of Local Government and Housing Whitey Jacobs yesterday (25/03/09) at the Protea Hotel in Sea Point.

The memorandum outlines recommendations from workshops involving backyarders, the term used to describe people who, due to a housing shortage, live in informal houses behind existing houses. The workshops were commissioned by the provincial housing department as part of developing a Draft Backyarder Response for the Cape Town Metropole.

Outlining the concerns of backyarder groups, Zondwa Butu, who has lived in a Gugulethu backyard for 15 years, said households could not see when and how their housing concerns would be addressed.

Cape Town has a housing waiting list estimated at 400 000, but Butu said the waiting lists did not function well, increasing conflict and frustration among backyarders and informal settlement residents.

Cooperation between the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Department of Local Government and Housing needed to be improved when it came to the waiting list and housing plans.

“Backyarders often experience frustrations because they are sent from pillar to post. No one in government wants to take responsibility for assisting backyarders,” said Butu, reading from the memorandum.

Backyarders faced problems of evictions, health issues, access to basic services and fire and flooding.

But both the City of Cape Town and the provincial housing department revealed plans at the meeting to make land available for backyarders.

Herman Steyn, City of Cape Town New Settlement Manager, said the drafting of a housing allocation policy was in its final stages.

Steyn said the policy dealt with how to allocate new housing opportunities based on a ratio between informal settlement and backyard dwellers.

He said the policy made provision for backyarders to be included in all new housing projects.

He said the City had identified land along Lansdowne Road which would accommodate Nyanga backyarders, and land had been identified in Manenberg for backyarders in that area.

Local Government and Housing MEC Whitey Jacobs said his department has identified land in Drift Sands in Mfuleni outside of Cape Town.

Jacobs said although the land was deemed environmentally sensitive and investigations were taking place as to how it could be used for housing, it was hoped that 6,000 units would be built to benefit backyarders.

Provincial housing department deputy director general Mbulelo Tshangana said his department and the City of Cape Town acknowledged that there were “huge” problems in dealing with the housing waiting lists.

Since 1994, he said informal settlements had been given priority, leaving backyarders in poor conditions.

He said the current system created “negative unintended consequences” as people living in informal settlements in hazardous areas were prioritised for housing.

He said the development of a policy on backyarders would prioritise vulnerable groups. “It’s criminal to see a 65-year old woman staying in the backyard. It makes the whole housing waiting lists a mockery,” he said. — West Cape News

Tags: backyarders, delft, Gugulethu, Nyanga

Reader Feedback

28 Responses to “Cape Town backyarders demand action on housing policy”

  1. Lesinda says:

    I am a single mother of two children, who is currently staying in a crowded wendy house. Yes, i owned a house almost seven years ago, but after my devorce things didn’t go that well. i had to move into a wendy house where i am currently staying. i earn about R3200pm. I have applied for houses all over but never qualify due to the fact that i am not a first time home buyer. What do i stand to do in my situation, how do i make life better for my children, if i can’t put them in a decent and warm house. there are so many back yard squatters in Mitchell’s Plain where i stay, but you never hear of houses being build for Mitchell’s Plain’s back yard squatters, it is always Nyanga, Mannenberg and other areas or where should i go to put my name on a waiting list. i would like Feedback on this matter.

  2. I’ve been on the waiting list june 1986. I was also told they were going to build houses in pelican park. Currently staying with my 80 year old mother on a third storey flat in 48 pontac court lavenderhill retreat.Please help::

  3. IF i can have feedback as to when i can expect to move into my very own house will really be a blessing best regards Eugene

  4. Zolani says:

    I lived in a backyard for 9years theres no improvement ward councillors come and take our names evry now and then but theres no developments its even hard even to those who have plots can we be assisted or the City can try to build rent to own cause we are renting then it will be better we we were doing it to own.

  5. Yusuf evans says:

    Im 25years of age.when my parents divorced i was 8y.since then we been moving place to place.now my mom is staying as an unlawful resident in someone esle counsil house.my brother in a wendy house and me in a cramped up room.my wife and son keep on getting sick.my wife is pregnant again,the social worker gave a letter to the city for housing assistance but they told us we as kids must apply for our own house.if the city gave my mother a house we all would have things a bit easier.17years we waiting!now i have to go on the list and wait for years to come.a city that works for some!thats what i call it.i would even be happy with just a vacant plot.what i dont understand is some people have 2 or 3 council houses or a council house with there own property which they rent as a income.

  6. MYMOENA WILLIAMS says:

    applied for backyard dwellers organisation. I am a widow with 4 children would like to know what is going on?

  7. Leonie says:

    Hi i want to know how long is it still going to take to get a house iam on the waiting list for more than ten years now still staying in a small shack.

  8. Mava Kenneth Nowala says:

    Dear Readers and officials

    I have been leading the backyarders group since 1998 called Harare Backyarders/Landless group and we dealt with the ex-mayoress NomaIndiya Mfeketho officials for a long time and passed by many officials unsuccessfully until we fell into the hands of Thubelitsha Housing Project. Thubelitsha tried and tenders were advertised for our projects and 3 fields in Harare(Ward 98)were identified for our project called Schools Project. Money, over R500 000 was spent on the designs and documentation fro the project to commence. Waiting lists has been submitted more than once for selection of those who had to be selected to qualify as beneficiaries.
    We also got promised to get houses from Kuyasa when people from Site C moved in, but nothing happened but the houses were sold by individuals and no-one was responsible or accountable for the investigation of the crime committed by those individuals and who are known.
    The City of Cape Town wanted to take over the project from Thubelitsha as Thubelitsha explained to us in their report before they stepped down, but Thubelitsha claimed the money they have spent on the project from City of Cape Town. The City resfused to pay the money and Thubelitsha also refused to hand-over the documentation and designs until they get paid their expenditure. We are now sitting in that dilemma and some of our people got qualified and they are on the waiting list.
    We would also like anyone who could assist us or who was working for Thubelitsha to assist us on this situation in resoving this matter.
    I feel that we as the backyarders do not have a value in our government in the Western Cape but pushing their agenda in politics which is unnecessary in the situation of improving people’s life style as the National government pushing for in Human Settlement.
    We heard about the backyarders organisation which is an umbrella of all the backyarders in the Western Cape and we would like to be in contact with them. If anyone have the information about the Western Cape Backyarders Association, please contact me Mava Kenneth Nowala at 0835056189 ASAP.

    Regards
    Kenneth Nowala

  9. Brian Shelton says:

    I am very sorry to read the plight of the homeless. there are however some tips to maximise chances of getting a house by registering on the City’s housing datbase. There is no question of getting assisted without your id no. When your turn for housing allocation comes are you contactable? I bet 40% of the earliest applicants on the housing database are not contactable.

    In addition does the City have your identity no, correct residential address and telephone/cellphone contact details. Does the City know that you married or divorced since applying.

    These may seem small issues but are critical to the selection and allocation process. It is important to keep your details up-to-date.

  10. Feliciia August says:

    Im living at the back of ather poeples yard with my small brother, sister and deaf mother. We never had our owne houme house i do apply but then get turned off. We paying R500.00 A MONTH. Please do help

  11. Malika pather says:

    Good Day,

    I am a single mother of two children, I do not get support(maintainence)for niether one of my children!I work very hard, but yet struggle gravley to come by. My rent is half of my salary and I feel I cant make some one elses life easier by paying of a lanlords bond every year. I was never a home owner and I am disadvantaged in many ways! I would like to apply on cape town’s housing list, how do I go about it? could you please HELP me??? I stay in the southern suberbs grassy park 7941.

    Many Many Thanks.

  12. admin says:

    Hi Malika.
    Try getting hold of your ward councillor. If you don’t know who that is have a look at the City of Cape Town’s web page, there’s a list of the Grassy Park ward councillors on http://web1.capetown.gov.za/web1/newcitycouncil/councilsearch.asp
    Good luck,
    Ed

  13. vuvu ludidi says:

    i have been applying for the house since1998,but till now im leaving with my 11year old boy at the back of someone”s yard and every year i have to move with my babby to start new faces due to the renting matters and landlord bad attitude.just think of a boy whose at that age growing up and down it is realy unfair not to be note taken.and we cant afford anything here due to low incomes.and a baby boy can end up being corrupt to stay here and there.
    am in harare as a back yarder.

  14. Feliciia August says:

    Felicia August

    This is my second reply
    Iam a backyearder living with my brother, suster and mother. Our landlord wants us out by next year January 2011 what do i do please help

  15. Regina Solomons says:

    I have been waiting since forever, but stil live on someone elses back yard.Can you please tell me when will i ever get to say the word “I GOT MY OWN HOUSE”aND LET ME TELL YOU ITS NOT EASY TO LIVE WHERE YOU NOT WANTED.

  16. freddy pietersen says:

    I am freddy pietersen living in bellville in someones backyard for more than 8 years and I also aplied for a house for that long as well I a have 4 children and my sister in laws child living by me in a cramped garage we dont know how to sleep there any more but dept of housing give houses to young children with no responsibility how does this working someone there please tell me

  17. freddy pietersen says:

    Goodday its Freddy pietersen again is there somebody at dept of housing one can talk to because i tried many times it seems that the dept people dont know their portfolios I am in tears people tell me who to talk to

  18. gilbert voigt says:

    i will never eva vote in this country,the politicians and their families live and drive in luxury,all of them is skelm,i want a house,please god,help south africa.

  19. sandra says:

    Hi my name is sandra – I serve on the mitchell’s plain backyarders and residence association. it is sad to read about the plight of the backyarders.if you followed the plight of the backyarders in tafelsig between 18th may to current i think that you will agree with me that there is nothing being done for the backyarders in cape town. people that are coming in from other parts of africa eg. transkei, ciskei, nigeria, congo, etc has a better chance of being accommodated than the inhabitants of cape town. since 18th may our people in tafelsig has been humiliated by being shot at, their structures being torn down, being improsoned, hospitalised, even little children had been hurt and no one seem to care. right now there are people squatting on the swartklip field whose possessions have been taken from them, they don’t have anything apart from a little tent and maybe a few blankets. their structures were torn down and their possessions confiscated – they were told that their possessions will be held for a month after which they can collect it again – in the meantime they are sleeping outside with nowhere else to go. When is this discrimination going to end. people who have been on the councils waiting list for as long as 37 years they are over 60 and 70 years old and has never had the joy of being a home owner. this is totally outrageous. if you are a backyarder/non-backyarder and you want to support our quest – we are appearing in the cape high court on wednesday at 9.30 your presence will be appreciated. let us unite in this quest and really make a difference

  20. baba says:

    i have applied for a house in 2007,i have been renting in the backyard attending meetings with empty promises
    i currently live in delft and my name is on the cape town civic centre housing list but still on waiting till now .People from rural areas come to the cape and few months they get houses and leave us still renting from one yard to another .its traumatising and very sad that we vote and being promised houses,i recently query this matter from another project and was informed they will have a new project late this year or next year .i sent through my details and later received an sms saying im on their database .Please advice as i desperately need a house for my kids and family.

  21. baba says:

    my email adress is :babalwahali@gmail.com thank you .

  22. Verna says:

    Am a backyard dweller and currently not on the waiting list but like to be.Will that deter my changes should house be build for this specific problem.Please reply with any info

  23. crisandra says:

    my name is crisandra and i’ve lived in the backyard ever since i can remember and i am no 24 years old.my mother is on the waiting list for housing but just nothing has come of it.I’ve also seen people who lived with me when i was growing up and they all recieved houses but not us what is wrong? my mother also when to our local housing department a few times and they just check the details and if she asks questions they said she must just wait to hear from them. and they talked about houses being build in vahala park oppisite bonteuweul but stil no word.we are staying in bishop lavis from when i was small and still is.we are backyard dwelwers.what do you have to do to get a house.

  24. admin says:

    That’s a hundred thousand Rand question, Crisandra. -Ed

  25. sam says:

    hai i am a 21 year old, from an informal settlement in nyanga. i was raised by my grand mom, she died on 3 july 2007, and things didn’t go well for me, my uncle and his wife took the house and a year later i was chesed away, im now living with friends dont have a plce to stay, and not working… Wish i can get help.

  26. famous says:

    hi my good people,I have been living in a house since 2002 and have been allocated by the community leaders when the people that were staying in those houses decided to go back to their bond houses.The problem that we are sitting with we never had title deeds as official owners and the previous owners had received the title deeds and has been tormenting us like trying to move back to the houses and another thing we are scared to extend or renovate them as we feel like we are not the rightful owners.I really feel like we demand a quoick intervention from the authorities as to address us what we ought to do to solve this matter.I am speaking about the houses that were built by THUBELITSHA PROJECT in macassar.

  27. ABE BRAAF says:

    Dear Readers we r a group of 27 Families all on the Housinhg Data of the City for moore that 16 years up until 24 years. It cane to our attention that the CItu is not working for us as they claim. Since 2012 at the Pelican Park RDP section children as young as 22 year old and people on the list for 12 years and 1 year will get housing. We have releaseed an article in the Southern Mail of today 26 Feb 2014m e r taking our concern to the Ombudsman of the City, public Protector and Human Righjts Commision tomoro and very soon to the High Court. Phone me Abe Braaf 07 1 216 9894. E; abeparalegalservice@yahoo.com Any person longer than 15 years on the Housing list is Welcome.

  28. Nomhle Lonzi says:

    It is very sad to be in the housing database since 1991 and still waiting for a house since then. When going to enquire you are not given hope that you’ll anytime have your own shelter. Living with parents and siblings who are now with their own children is a disgrace.

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