‘No plan to provide services’ to Azania Square

The informal settlement was established in June 2018 at the height of land occupations by backyarders around the country and in Cape Town. Photo by Sinethemba Mbewana

While the upgrading of informal settlements programme is government policy to tackle their developmental challenges, the City of Cape Town says that it will not provide services to the new settlement.

Residents of an informal settlement alongside Baden Powell Drive in Khayelitsha will have to contend with no access to even basic necessities as the City of Cape Town has “no plans to provide services”. The settlement is situated opposite Monwabisi Beach and was established in June 2018 on a wave of land occupations around the country. One part of the settlement is called Vosho, another Nkandla.

People who were mostly backyarders from different parts of Khayelitsha have been living on the land for over a year without toilets, water and electricity. “People moved to this area because they saw vacant land; most people here could no longer afford rent so they went to the vacant land, started to cut the grass and trees so that they could erect their shacks,” said Zoleka Tawo, one of the community leaders.

The lack of access to water in the informal settlement is an added burden for women as they have to walk a long distance carrying water in butckets. “Those that are far from the taps have to wake up at about 5am and go to the taps for water,” said Tawo.

According to residents, the City of Cape Town used to send law enforcement officials to demolish ‘unoccupied’ shacks but people kept on rebuilding them. Now that they have settled, residents call the location their home and they demand basic services from the City.

Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements, Councillor Malusi Booi, said that the City has no plans to provide services to the community.

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“The provision of services on this land was not planned and is therefore not included in the City’s current budget or resource allocation. Mostly, illegal occupation happens on land which is unsuitable for human habitation due to it being situated on flood basins, wetlands or under power lines,” said Booi.

Councillor Booi added that they have to act in fairness since there are communities that, having existing for a longer time, should receive services first. “Numerous newly-established communities are demanding services but currently the City is unable to cater for these unplanned settlements as existing recognised informal settlements are prioritised on the basis of available resources, which are not limitless.”

Lacking access to basic services, residents resort to self-supply measures. Photo by Sinethemba Mbewana

Effects of lack of services

In an interview with Elitsha, residents said that they feel left out and not cared for by the City. Yonela Ntingisa has been staying in the area since it was established. She said life is hard there. She has a shop, which is powered thanks to an electrical connection she and a few others paid for.

“I have electricity here because I don’t have a choice; I have a store which has stock that would be damaged if I didn’t have electricity but I also have a generator as a back-up because sometimes people cut and steal our cables,” said Ntingisa.

Xolani Koti, who also stays in the area said that people have resorted to self- supply measures in the absence of basic services. “People that don’t have electricity use candles; other people dig holes in the sand and build their own toilets like the ones we have in Eastern Cape,” he said.

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While the majority of residents Elitsha spoke to said they want access to basic services like water, sanitation and electricity, some were more concerned about the issue of safety. “It gets pitch dark at night and I’ve never seen the police drive through here; I see them on the main road,” said Noxolo Ndamase.

Harare police station spokesperson, Captain Siyabulela Vukubi, denied the claim: “The police do go to Vosho to patrol, especially the 4x4s. The sand poses no problems for the bakkies,” said Vukubi.

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