‘How can you slaughter a goat here?’
Residents relocated from Claremont informal settlement dissatisfied with ‘apartheid-style’ flats
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.
Some beneficiaries of the newly-completed multimillion-rand municipal housing project in Claremont say the flats do not suit their lifestyle.