AFTER 28 years of living in Site C, Khayelitsha, Felicia Mfamana finally owns the property she lives on after the city handed over her title deed this past weekend as part of a redress programme.
This year marks 30 years since Khayelitsha (meaning New Home) was announced as a “high-density township” as part of the apartheid government’s plan to settle all African people in the Western Cape in this new area. The announcement in 1983 was met with mass resistance, including residents from Old Crossroads in Nyanga who had to endure forced relocation again.
Along with forced removals, the apartheid government also passed legislation that prohibited black people from buying or owning land.
This weekend, Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille as part of a wider redress programme, handed over 50 title deeds to Site C residents who had been living on their properties since the 1980s. There are a further 16 000 units in the city which people could receive title deeds to once the properties have been properly surveyed.
Mfamana, 74 was one beneficiary to finally receive ownership of her property.
She has occupied the piece of land since 1985 and lived in a shack for years until she was handed the keys to her government-subsidised home in 2009.
Yesterday Mfamana spoke to the Cape Times at her home, saying she was “happy and grateful” that she finally had the piece of paper to say she owned the property. Mfamana was among a group of people who were moved from Crossroads in the mid-1980s.
“When we were first moved to Khayelitsha, I did not like it that much, there was a lot of fighting but as time went on I started to enjoy the place and I am still happy to be here,” she said.
Mfamana lives in the two-bedroom home with her two daughters, several grandchildren and great grandchildren.
“When I received my house (in 2009) I was so happy because I lived in a shack for so long and each winter we had problems with flooding.
“Now I have the title deed and I waited a long time but finally this house and the land belongs to me,” Mfamana said.
At the handing over of title deeds this past weekend, De Lille said that the beneficiaries had travelled a long journey since the 1980s to finally realise the benefits of ownership.
“The history of the finalisation of title deeds for Site C residents is a reminder of our divided past.
“Indeed, they were once forcefully removed to Site C by the apartheid regime. For years they did not have access to full basic services due to the supposed temporary nature of their community,” De Lille said.
“It’s a good feeling to be able to own a house and the land, we waited very long but finally we are here because of the new government.
De Lille said the transfer of the title deeds was meant to be a smoother process, but that there had been numerous problems over the years with changes in government structures, project difficulties and surveying difficulties. The city handed over the title deeds to the first group of 50 people as they had been waiting the longest to obtain them.
Next month the city will issue the remaining 2 785 title deeds to Site C residents.
Most of the residents in these homes live in subsidised housing and qualify for indigent grants which means they receive a discount on their water, electricity and rates.
In most cases these households qualify for free basic services.
In the past year, the city has also handed over title deeds to residents in Kewtown and Kuyasa in Khayelitsha.