‘Housing: don’t invade, rather engage’
Knysna Municipality is deeply concerned about recent violent public protests around housing.
Knysna mayor Mark Willemse said, “We acknowledge that people are free to exercise their constitutional rights by voicing their concerns, but we caution residents against injuring others and vandalising infrastructure. We ask residents who have grievances to continue to engage with the municipality through formal channels. Muni opposes illegal invasions
“The Knysna Municipality wishes to state it is completely opposed to any illegal land invasions. The municipality needs to ensure that the interests of all awaiting beneficiaries as well as of the community at large are balanced. We urge the community to refrain from any unlawful activity and appeal to them to cooperate with the municipality. We have no option but to enforce and uphold the law and are therefore compelled to remove any illegal structures on invaded land,” he said. Ongoing discussions
“We have ongoing discussions and engagements (through ward and IDP meetings) with the communities of Knysna regarding the human settlements strategies, plans, and implementation of approved pipeline projects. Our human settlements department has made applications to the provincial human settlements department based on the agreed plans and informed the communities through public meetings of all the related processes.”
The mayor stated that some of the recent protests that caused closure of the N2 were not related to service delivery, but rather took the form of criminal activity. “On the night of Wednesday 20 June I was shocked to learn of protests on the N2 at Nekkies as we had enjoyed fruitful engagements earlier that day. This protest involved looting of trucks, throwing of stones, and burning tyres and trucks and was a purely criminal act, which we strongly condemn. Such activities have dire consequences for the image and infrastructure of Knysna, at a time when we are striving to build a better future for all. Zero tolerance approach
“In order to protect the assets and infrastructure of our town we are taking a zero tolerance approach to illegal activities like these. Any public disorder will be dealt with collectively with other government law representatives such as the SAPS and public order police. …We cannot afford the economic decline that threatens our town due to such illegal behaviour.” Various projects in pipeline
Various Integrated Human Settlements projects are forecast in the Knysna Municipal Vision 2002, which aims to upgrade and provide the necessary civil infrastructure for provision of low-income houses. The purpose of this vision is to upgrade 10 existing informal settlements: Qolweni, Happy Valley, Ethembeni, Flenters, Hlalani, Bloemfontein, Concordia, Dam-se-Bos, Nekkies and Oupad.
Added Willemse, “In Sedgefield five sites have been identified for future Integrated Human Settlements projects, and we plead with residents not to build on the sand dunes as this is unstable and unsafe.
“Prior to the land invasion in Sedgefield, the municipality was proactive and appointed an environmental professional to conduct a study on rehabilitation of the dune.
However, recent activities will have an impact on the results of the study. The area at this stage cannot be classified as safe and stable … We urge residents not to build there. We have the Red Ants monitoring the area as a precautionary measure to ensure that no structures are erected on the dune in order to protect human life.” Updates to be communicated
Updates will be provided to ward councillors to communicate the progress through ward and housing committees.
Housing applicants are reminded that allocations are made in terms of the prescribed measures in the selection criteria of the housing subsidy system. To learn more about the system, please visit the Western Cape Human Settlements website at www. westerncape.gov.za/service/all-you-need-knowabout-housing-subsidies.
Please report land invasions to the municipal law enforcement team on 060 998 7002.
– Supplied by KM
Residents of Smutsville, Sedgefield set fire to various objects during their housing protests in June, which saw them clash with Public Order Policing units.