Cape Town - Twenty days after 890 people watched their 234 homes being smashed to pieces, rebuilding was due to start on Monday on the controversial site in Lwandle.
This morning, graders and rollers were finishing preparing the SA National Roads Agency Ltd (Sanral) land for resettlement. They were building raised sections where the shacks will be built in rows, leaving drainage dips between the rows, under the watchful eye of civil engineers.
These gaps will also allow access for vehicles, such as fire engines.
“We are so happy, so happy,” said resident Thembakazi Qhubinkomo, warming herself at a fire ton Monday morning.
She and her sister Nosipho have spent 20 nights in the community hall nearby and were looking forward to starting to rebuild their home this afternoon.
Large piles of materials lay waiting. According to sources, these were 6m x 3m “emergency housing starter kits”. These were larger than initially agreed, and as demanded by the Ses’Khona People’s Rights Movement, which represented some of the evicted residents.
The materials were supplied by a City of Cape Town service provider but paid for at a national level.
At the time of the evictions, there was a national outcry. This led to an agreement between national Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille.
The agreement was that the evicted people be allowed to rebuild their 234 structures on the site; that all qualifying people among them would be added to the city’s existing housing plans within nine months; and that the city would provide “emergency housing starter kits” to people who wanted them to rebuild temporarily on the Sanral land.
These kits include poles and steel roof sheets to make up a 3m x 3m dwelling, plus a door with a lock and a window.
But in a surprise development, a new statement was issued the following day by the city, Ses’Khona and the councillors of wards 85 and 86.
In it, the three parties – without Sanral or the national Human Settlements having been at the meeting – said they had “agreed that Sanral must take responsibility for rebuilding 849 structures and at the size of 6m x 3m”.
Ses’Khona had arrived at the inflated number by including families which it said had vacated the site earlier this year.
On Monday it appeared the larger, 6m x 3m kits had arrived but only for those evicted on June 2 and 3.