Thursday, January 20, 2022

Department of Human Settlements Visit Several Housing Projects Throughout Western Cape, Plan for Further Community Engagement


Western Cape Minister of Human Settlements Tertuis Simmers and Neville Chainee meet in Langa to discuss the status of current housing projects.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, several members from the local and national departments of human settlements visited sites throughout the Western Cape to inspect the progress made on various housing projects.

Western Cape Minister of Human Settlements Tertuis Simmers, hosted the National Minister and Deputy Minister of Human Settlements, Mmamoloko Kubayi and Pamela Tshwete. They visited several sites of housing projects including Boys Town and Joe Slovo, which are both part of the N2 Gateway Project.  

The N2 Gateway Project has been ongoing since 2005, its ultimate aim is to build 25,000 homes in townships throughout the Western Cape. However, it has faced opposition from many shack dwellers who say the government homes will displace them.

On Wednesday, the South African Deputy Directors General of Human Settlements Planning and Strategy, Neville Chainee, said while the government has made progress in building houses, those homes have not been upkept.

“There’s a lot of sewage problems and electricity issues,” Chainee said. “It’s not being maintained at the rate it should be.”

To qualify for the homes built in these projects, tenants must earn at least R3,500 per year. Chainee said most of the people living in these homes earn more than that.

“The people here wanted these units to be made available for title deeds and they believe they should earn title deeds to them,” Chainee said. “Unfortunately, there are a lot of issues that still haven’t been addressed with these units.”

Western Cape Minister of Human Settlements, Tertuis Simmers, said the purpose of their visits to the housing projects was to see first-hand what those issues are and attempt to work toward innovative solutions.

“We showed the good and the not so good of human settlements with these visits,” Simmers said.

Simmers said they witnessed the harms of environmental harms like land slipping in Mossel Bay and also gave title deeds to mostly elderly people during these visits. He said he believed the visits engaged in difficult conversations.

The Department of Human Settlements has had several challenges from community members who argue they are being displaced. Simmers said these dissidents were harming their communities because they are preventing the government from helping them.

Simmers said the department is going to appoint an independent facilitator to quell the civil unrest and move forwards with the government’s solution of building housing.

“We can’t let the community dynamics be a hindrance for us moving forward,” Simmers said.

One of the main challenges from the community has been from the youth demanding housing from the government. In October, several youth activists protested outside the provincial Democratic Alliance Offices demanding proper services from their government.

Earlier this week, the national housing minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi, said young adults need to wait their turn in line and keep their energy on school.

Simmers said the department remains committed to community engagement. In the Western Cape, Simmers said his top priorities are creating affordable housing and engaging the private sector to build more homes.  

By Ben Rappaport and Danielle Mentoor

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