Tshwane fails to meet housing deadline

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Plastic View in Garsfontein, which has been a bone of contention between residents of surrounding suburbs and the City of Tshwane. Picture: Phill Magakoe

Pretoria - The city of Tshwane has failed to meet the deadline, set by the Pretoria High Court, to provide residents of Woodlane Village (better known as Plastic View) in Moreleta Park with formal housing.

The deadline that was set expired in November.

This is according to Amolemo Mothoagae, strategic officer of housing at the Tshwane Metro Council, in court papers in which the council will early next year ask the court to order Home Affairs to evict all illegal immigrants from Plastic View.

The council is also expected to ask the court to extend the time frame in which to develop the township.

The people living next to Moreleta Park Ned Geref Kerk in an informal settlement, had been the subject of ongoing court battles for the past seven years.

The surrounding home owners of Meadow Glen, Meadow Ridge, Mooikloof and Woodhill fought for them to be moved to another area, but the council last year agreed to low-cost housing on the land.

This move was hailed as a victory, as it will be the first time the government’s integrated suburb policy was due to be implemented in Pretoria.

In court papers, which contained the latest development in the long saga, Mothoagae conceded that the council was unable to comply with the court-sanctioned time frames, but said it was due to circumstances beyond its control.

It was explained that the council faced budgetary constraints and a housing backlog, which included complying with other court orders where the council had to find alternative accommodation for the homeless.

In addition, at the end of September, about 144 000 households were on the waiting list for state-assisted housing. She said by the time this application is heard, the number would have increased substantially.

Mothoagae said the council had been trying since 2006 to resolve the Plastic View issue (which cost the ratepayers hundreds of thousands in legal fees). “Initially the council sought to find alternative accommodation for the original occupiers, but to no avail. Hence the resolution to establish a township within and around the demarcated area.”

She said that since the granting of last year’s order, the council had started and now completed the process of appointing a developer. But due to “unforeseen circumstances” it took more time than anticipated. “The council estimates that the development will begin sometime next year, if things proceed according to plan… The council is committed to establish it as soon as it is reasonably possible.

“The council intends to have a mix of houses comprising of RDPs, a mixture of state assisted and subsidised houses, flats and houses for leasing.”

Mothoagae said it was necessary for Home Affairs to evict all the illegal immigrants in Plastic View, so that the council could know how many people had to receive a home and that there was no jumping of the queue.

The council allocated 916 stands to the residents of Plastic View when this informal settlement was established. In terms of one of the many court orders, no other people are allowed to settle on this land. Each resident had to be issue with a ID card and the settlement had, at all times, be fenced off to prevent others from moving in.

Mothoagae said it was impossible to comply with these orders, as the fence was cut from time to time to allow others to move in and ID cards were being duplicated. It was thus vital that Home Affairs evicted the illegal foreigners.

The residents, with the aid of Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), will oppose the eviction application on grounds which include that Home Affairs is not in law allowed to evict people.

LHR lawyer Louise du Plessis said the government could arrest illegal foreigners, but only the sheriff, with the aid of the police, could evict.

She said the LHR verified that there were very few illegal immigrants living there.

Pretoria News

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