News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Tuesday July 16th 2019

‘Gatvol’ backyarders demand answers from Human Settlements MEC


Backyarders calling themselves the Gatvol Crisis Committee marched down the street in Khayelitsha before symbolically burying City of Cape Town documents related to the housing waiting list in Makhaza, Khayelitsha, today. Photo: Nombulelo Damba/WCN

A group backyarders from Khayelitsha and Blue Downs brought aged and disabled members of their community to the Human Settlement MEC’s doorstep today, demanding proper housing for the infirm.

The small group of 12 people, with four aged and three disabled members gathered outside the provincial legislature and held up placards saying they were tired of paying rent to stay in someone else’s backyard, they accused Human Settlement MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela’s office of neglecting them.

“We demand Madikizela to come outside and address us. We tired of living in shacks we demand Madikizela to build us proper houses,” the group shouted.

Thandiswa Mbambasa, 29, from Makhaza said every month she pays more than R300 rent.

“I’m stuck in a wheelchair, it’s been two years now. I can’t help myself. We’re living in a one room shack with my sisters and their children because they have to take care of me. I pay R60 for water, R260 for electricity.”

She said it would help her immensely if she had access to a proper toilet.

Yesterday’s demonstration outside the Provincial Legislature came after the group, who call themselves the Gatvol Crisis Committee symbolically buried the city’s housing list in Makhaza, Khayelitsha.

The group was yesterday met by Madikizela’s spokesperson Bruce Oom, who tried to explain to the group on how the city housing list works.

However, he failed to placate the group.

Raymond Mtati, convener of the Social Economic Environmental Board (SEEBO), said: “Bruce is a politician and we are not. He keeps on explaining about how the list works, we know the protocol and it’s not working, that’s why we buried it.”

“People must come first,” said Mtati.

He said what they were asking for was land so they could look for sponsors to enable them to build their own houses as the houses promised them were not being built.

Oom said the province recognised the need for houses and tried to proved “the few houses we have in a fair and a just manner”.

He said “unfortunately” not everyone’s demands for houses or land could be met.

He said the backyarder group had questions about the housing list being circulated and wanted government to provide them land for a housing project.

However, he said, People’s Housing Projects were usually developed for people who already have land and want to get formal housing.

Oom also questioned the validity of their leadership, saying many people in their community appeared not to support them.

He said people are drawn off the City of Cape Town waiting list and screened according to whether or not they live in the area and the length of time they had been on the waiting list.

Those who had been on the list longest and lived in the area in which houses were being built were prioritized.

He said list was used to ensure that housing opportunities are fairly and objectively allocated. – Nombulelo Damba

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