Residents grateful at TRAs but warn of ‘scammers’

Pumza Kondile and one-year-old son Someleze are enjoying life on the Depot site.

While residents settled on the two temporary relocation areas in Imizamo Yethu are delighted with the provision of services by the City of Cape Town, they have warned there are some people who are “scamming” the relocation programme.

After eight months living at the Hout Bay Sports Complex, victims of last year’s March 11 fire started being resettled at the Disa and Depot sites in December (“Residents move onto TRA site”, Sentinel, December 8).

While initially apprehensive about the relocation, residents are now singing the City’s praises, saying that for the first time they feel “free” because of access to water and electricity at the sites.

Depot resident John Nyongowana said his partner and daughter were the “happiest they’ve ever been”.

“We are delighted with the benefits we are getting here. For the first time we are getting regular access to water and power, which we don’t have to get through an illegal connection and pay for,” he said.

Residents, he believed, had been exploited for many years by unscrupulous people renting shacks illegally to those desperate to find a home in the Road 1 area of Dontse Yakhe.

Now the TRA residents no longer had to pay the monthly rental for basic services and a roof over their heads.

“But there are still some people who are living in a TRA home, but have rebuilt their shacks in Road 1 and are renting these out to desperate people, especially the foreigners.

“The people are earning R500 a month plus the cost of the electricity connection for doing nothing.

“We don’t think this is right. You can’t stay in a government house and then do this. There are people who deserve these homes more than them. This is a money-making scheme.”

Mr Nyongowana’s friend, Simon Adam, agreed that the practice was “very unfair”.

Similar practises were seen at the sports complex when residents were relocated there after the fire (“Rental ‘scam’ causes a stir”, Sentinel, June 9 2017).

City spokeswoman Priya Reddy said, in general, there were instances across the metro that such scams might occur.

“The City has a stringent enumeration and verification system to ensure that, as far as possible, we are able to provide the required humanitarian assistance that is required for all affected by relocations, fires or floods or other emergency and transitional circumstances,” she said.

“All allegations should please be raised with the relevant field officers, who are on site regularly, and if possible, if there is proof, this should be provided.

“Residents are also urged to approach the local SAPS office and to fill in an affidavit so that the police can investigate if required.”

Pumza Kondile, who lost everything in the fire, lives with her one-year-old son Someleze in a 3mx3m shack at the Depot site.

“Everything is good here. I like that there is electricity and taps. I don’t want to stay anywhere else,” she said.

“I used to be charged rent in Dontse Yakhe, but it was dangerous, and I did not get on with my neighbours. I want to say thank you to the City for what they have done for us. It was so painful to lose everything in the fire, but we obeyed the law, and we no longer feel like people are taking advantage of us.”

At the nearby Disa site, Buzeni Gqaza was equally pleased with his new housing arrangement.

“I’m in a 3mx3m shack and stay with my brother, but we have everything we need – water, toilets and electricity. This is much better than the sports fields and Road 1. I don’t want to move from here,” he said.

However, Ms Reddy said the residents would not be settled on the sites permanently.

“Qualifying residents will permanently relocate back into the Imizamo Yethu informal settlement as construction is completed. A basket of accommodation solutions is under consideration.

“The super-blocking construction is an estimated 24-month programme and is dependent on the phased movement of affected residents and support of those affected,” she said.