‘How can you slaugh­ter a goat here?’

Res­i­dents re­lo­cated from Clare­mont in­for­mal set­tle­ment dis­sat­is­fied with ‘apartheid-style’ flats

Sunday Tribune - - FRONT PAGE -

SOME ben­e­fi­cia­ries, who pre­vi­ously lived in Clare­mont’s Mh­labun­z­ima in­for­mal set­tle­ment in the west­ern part of Dur­ban, are not sat­is­fied with the new homes they have been given by the ethek­wini Mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

In 2017 the city com­pleted a mul­ti­mil­lion-rand project that com­prises 22 blocks, each with six two-bed­room units, and handed keys to the new home­own­ers.

But some have since la­belled their new homes that have been built where the Mh­labun­z­ima set­tle­ment once stood as “apartheid-style” flats.

They com­plained that the liv­ing space in the flat was not ap­pro­pri­ate and it did not suit their cul­ture or way of life.

Since 2012, when plans for the hous­ing project were pub­li­cised, res­i­dents of the set­tle­ment have been ve­he­mently op­posed to hav­ing the de­vel­op­ment on land they al­ready oc­cu­pied.

The af­fected res­i­dents sug­gested that the mu­nic­i­pal­ity build stand-alone re­con­struc­tion and de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme (RDP) style houses be­cause they were bet­ter suited to their lifestyles.

But they were ig­nored.

The res­i­dents ap­proached the courts to force the city to halt the project and amend the de­sign of the new dwellings, but were un­suc­cess­ful.

The court vic­tory en­abled the city to de­mol­ish the shacks and other in­for­mal dwellings and move in­for­mal dwellers to tran­sit camps in 2016, so con­struc­tion work could pro­ceed.

In spite of the mod­ern look of the two-bed­room flats, which in­clude an open-plan kitchen and liv­ing room, some res­i­dents are not pre­pared to cosy up to liv­ing there.

“We are African peo­ple. At cer­tain times we need to per­form rit­ual cer­e­monies. How can you slaugh­ter a goat here?” asked Muzi Ndlela.

He said his pre­vi­ous four-bed­room was de­mol­ished to make way for the new de­vel­op­ment.

“We were never against any de­vel­op­ment. In­stead, the mu­nic­i­pal­ity should have iden­ti­fied land to build houses that would suit the norms and be­liefs of ben­e­fi­cia­ries, if they were se­ri­ous about im­prov­ing our lives,” said Ndlela.

An­other ben­e­fi­ciary, Zandile Ngidi, said all mem­bers of her fam­ily no longer lived un­der the same roof at the flat be­cause it had only two bed­rooms.

“I was liv­ing com­fort­ably with my fam­ily in our five-bed­room house be­fore, which I worked hard to build.

“I have grown-up sons and daugh­ters, but now we can­not live to­gether as a fam­ily. I’m forced to rent a house else­where,” said Ngidi. She can’t af­ford the ad­di­tional costs.

She had reached out to politi­cians and author­i­ties to help her and her fam­ily but was not suc­cess­ful. “I don’t have a place that I call home. This de­vel­op­ment has ru­ined our lives,” Ngidi claimed. Other dis­grun­tled ben­e­fi­cia­ries said the flats were sim­i­lar to liv­ing un­der apartheid op­pres­sion, be­cause they were not able grow gar­dens, run tuck shops or even keep pets.

One ben­e­fi­ciary, who asked not to be named, said the spaza shop she pre­vi­ously ran helped to sup­ple­ment the pen­sion she col­lected.

“I am now suf­fer­ing fi­nan­cially be­cause all I have now to sup­port my grand­chil­dren and my­self is my pen­sion.

“My grown-up son was forced to live else­where be­cause a dou­ble bed can­not fit in the bed­rooms.

“It’s sad that the same gov­ern­ment that en­cour­aged us to grow our own food and cre­ate small busi­nesses has forced us to live in these flats that are not fam­ily-friendly,” Ngidi said.

Chair­per­son of the Hu­man Set­tle­ments and In­fra­struc­ture Com­mit­tee, Mondli Mthembu, said he was not aware of the com­plaints and asked to be given time to li­aise with the ward coun­cil­lor, Si­bongiseni Mkhize, on the is­sue.

“Nor­mally when there are is­sues, we meet the lo­cal lead­er­ship to find a res­o­lu­tion. I will speak to Mkhize about the com­plaints to find a res­o­lu­tion,” said Mthembu.

PIC­TURE: SI­BON­ISO MNGADI

Some ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the newly-com­pleted mul­ti­mil­lion-rand mu­nic­i­pal hous­ing project in Clare­mont say the flats do not suit their life­style.

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