Movement on IY housing

The Disa refuge for Imizamo Yethu fire victims is to be extended, while the Depot site will be cleared for 300 more households.

A contractor has already started preparations for basic services at both emergency camps, says the City of Cape Town.

Temporary homes on the Disa site – formerly a nursery – will increase from 62 to 197, while the Depot site – below Disa Primary School and utilised as a base for building contractors – will be levelled for the households.

It is anticipated that some residents of the emergency camp at the Hout Bay Sports Complex will be relocated to these sites by the end of the year, although specific time lines have not been finalised yet, according to Xanthea Limberg, mayoral committee member for informal settlements, water and waste services and energy.

“Adequate sites/land have to be provided for the temporary relocation of affected households while preparing IY for super-blocking. These sites will include electricity, refuse services and shared water and ablution facilities to provide improved conditions for the community,” she said.

However, despite these developments, which some believe will help to ease housing concerns in Imizamo Yethu since the fire, the section known as Road 1 in Dontsa Yakhe remains a source of contention.

According to community development worker Kenny Tokwe, residents of the Road 1 precinct could be relocated to the Disa and Depot sites, and many were “willing” to do so.

Dontsa Yakhe residents have criticised housing plans in the wake of the fire, particularly “superblocking” – the City’s plan to overhaul the area for utilities and roads.

In August, more than 2 000 of them were ferried in taxis to the Cape Town CBD where they handed a memorandum to a representative from Ms De Lille’s office. They argued that they had been told they could go ahead and rebuild their shacks only to find out later that the fire-ravaged areas were to superblocked.

Pamela Sofika, a representative of the Donsta Yakhe group, said they would only relocate if they got adequate housing.

“We support housing upgrades, not superblocking. There are still too many inconsistencies in what we are hearing from the City,” Ms Sofika said.

The Dontsa Yakhe group has the Legal Resource Centre in its corner and will tackle the City’s “inconsistencies” in the Western Cape High Court on Thursday October 26.

“The City has not engaged with us properly. They are only engaging with Kenny’s group. But we are the affected people. Until this matter is sorted out, we are not interested in hearing about sites where we could be relocated to,” Ms Sofika said.

Mr Tokwe said community liaison officers had been appointed to communicate the latest developments to residents.

“We are also holding weekly meetings at the sports complex to update the community. Furthermore, we are sitting down with the City every month to discuss the situation.”

Questions also remain over the so-called “triangle” site above the cemetery on Hout Bay Road. Residents in the area have objected to the use of this property as temporary accommodation for 200 households, saying it presents a safety and security risk as there is only one exit road, and, in the event of another fire, people would have no way to escape.

They have asked the City’s fire chief, Ian Schnetler, to do a fire-risk assessment of the triangle site.

Meanwhile, Mr Tokwe said plans for the ongoing formal housing development in Imizamo Yethu were “still on track”.

The plans include 682 Breaking New Ground (BNG) units and 240 community residential units (CRUs). These will be built on the Petersen, Forestry and Penzance sites.

“We do want to create high-density blocks, and, in fact, want to double the size of the BNG and CRU units on the Petersen and Penzance sites. We are engaging the City on this,” Mr Tokwe said.

In the interim, local contractors have been invited to tender to clear the sites of trees and foliage.

“Seven local contractors applied, and we are waiting to hear who won that contract.” Mr Tokwe said Imizamo Yethu residents were now “seeing the light at the end of the tunnel” in terms of housing.

“The people are seeing action, and because of that they are starting to be vigilant in their approach,” he said.

“Recently, it has come to our attention that some people are saying the formal homes will go to the fire victims, but we want to assure them that those residents who have been on the waiting list prior to the fire will get these houses. If some homes are given to fire victims, then that is a bonus.”

Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, said the final report on the proposed declaration of the triangle site as an emergency housing site had still not been submitted.