Cape Town - The City has been slammed for shifting the blame for its housing crisis to criminal disruptions, after it said its housing projects had been severely impacted by a surge in gang violence, extortion rackets, sabotage and theft.
Human Settlements Mayco member Malusi Booi said in less than two years, since February last year, those instances of criminality had cost the City more than R131 million.
Booi said in the five years since 2017, the City had spent more than R143m, indicating a surge in those incidents in recent months. That was more than double the amount spent in the two previous years to counter the criminality.
Some of the projects impacted since February last year, included the implementation of the City’s Beacon Valley housing project which was delayed for more than 12 months which impacted 1 800 housing beneficiaries.
Another project mentioned was that of “Backstage 2” Upgrading of Informal Settlement Project (UISP) was cancelled following unlawful occupation of 100% of the project site which cost R33m, and affected 466 beneficiaries.
Monwabisi Park UISP was also cancelled following unlawful occupation of 100% of the project site, cost of R94m and 7 000 opportunities impacted.
EFF provincial secretary Banzi Dambuza said the human settlement directorate should be honest about problems of housing in the communities.
"First, there has been major delays when it comes to building of housing, when the contractors are constantly chopped," said Dambuza.
He said there was always finger pointing between the Province and the City.
SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) provincial chairperson Bongikhaya Qhama said the finger pointing had been on-going for several years, and the number of unresolved cases had been reported both to the City and the police.
Qhama said the City could not use excuses as a hiding mechanism for the lack of service delivery. He said the City had been dodging to provide affordable quality housing to the people, but instead they were now opting for land tenure instead of building proper houses for the people.
Good secretary-general Brett Herron said the hijacking and vandalism of housing projects had been wrong and should be condemned.
Herron said the City could also avert that by working with communities more closely so that the community was invested in the proper delivery of the housing to the rightful beneficiaries.
He said it was also important that housing was handed over to the beneficiaries on time and without delay. Empty, completed housing sends the wrong message to communities that their housing needs were not the priority.
"In Forest Village 500 houses are completed but not handed to the beneficiaries. There’s no reasonable explanation," said Herron.
"The issue of gang violence and alleged extortion experienced at project sites is endemic to contracts in the human settlements sector nationally, as are challenges relating to sabotage, vandalism, theft, land invasion and damage to property," said Booi.
He said they were concerned about the increasing criminal activities which had stalled or completely blocked projects that were key to improving the well-being and development of the communities.
"In addition, some disruptions have been violent and resulted in property damage, injury of persons and, in some cases, loss of life," he said.
SA Communist Party provincial secretary Benson Ngqentsu said there had been no doubt the DA government wanted to use this scourge of extortion, vandalism, illegal occupation, gang violence as a convenient excuse to justify their poor performance in the delivery of decent human settlements in working class communities.
Ngqentsu said the government should take responsibility for the current state of affairs with respect to the living conditions of the majority people, the working class.