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City of Cape Town is sabotaging the central line relocation attempts, Kubayi says

Backyarders put up shacks between railway lines close to Philippi train station. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

Backyarders put up shacks between railway lines close to Philippi train station. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Sep 12, 2023


Cape Town - Human Settlements Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi has slammed the City of Cape Town for allegedly sabotaging the central line relocation attempts by her department and its counterparts.

Kubayi said it was because of the City’s non-committal attitude that she had to declare a dispute, in terms of the Intergovernmental Relations Framework Act (IGR).

Kubayi was addressing a hall of concerned local community councillors, leaders and residents at a stakeholder engagement meeting in Philippi yesterday.

She was accompanied by Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga and Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Sihle Zikalala.

The City of Cape Town (CoCT), however, was not at the meeting.

Commenting on the City’s absence, Kubayi said she was discouraged as this meant that the local municipality was disregarding the urgency of the central line relocations, forcing her to approach the courts over a matter that could have been solved by working together.

Kubayi said she declared a dispute with the City two weeks ago, after its move to send back to the National Treasury the R50 million it had been given by the Housing Development Agency (HDA) under Kubayi’s directives to purchase land that had been identified for the relocation of the 1 254 shacks near Langa station.

When Kubayi, along with the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa), the City, the HDA and the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) met the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) last month, Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis communicated the City’s role in the relocation process as being that of an independent planning authority that would preside over Prasa and the HDA applications for the relocation of the central line occupants.

Hill-Lewis proposed that the National Treasury could reallocate the R50m to the HDA, which would afford the entity the ability to purchase the land it needed for the relocations of the thousands of families living on the central line.

The ministries of Transport, Public Works and Human Settlements involved say they are working on securing two parcels of land.

The first parcel is the land purchased for the Langa group of families, which, according to Chikunga, has been lodged in terms of the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act (Spluma) for approval processes.

The act mandates a new spatial planning system that places local municipalities at the centre of spatial planning and decision-making related to land use management.

Chikunga said: “With the Spluma Act, the City is saying to us that processes to green-light the piece of land could take nine months, which is unreasonable.

You cannot set aside three months for public consultation.”

Chikunga also expressed her “concerns” about the mobilisation of “not in our neighbourhood campaigns”, where people in formal communities were reportedly banding together to reject temporary units being placed in their areas.

Kubayi accused the City of backing the campaigns, saying it was one of the excuses the City was using to sabotage efforts to re-home groups of central line invaders.

Regarding the second parcel of land the trio of government departments were eyeing, Chikunga said discussions with the owner were at a sensitive stage but nothing was confirmed yet.

Chikunga said her directorate had completed phase one of Operation Bhekela and had begun phase two.

She said: “We have identified on Prasa land space where we will move some people living directly on top of rail infrastructure so that we can work. So, if we relocate people, be it at a temporary or permanent level, we will be able to fix the area and start providing the services.”

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