The City promised to put services on to the land it bought for Masi (Erf 5131) to rehouse those in the “wetland” shacks. Nothing has happened. The promised Masi plan has not materialised. File photo: African News Agency (ANA)
The City claims it cannot supply electricity to shack dwellers in the “wetlands” area of Masiphumele because they say the law says it constitutes a danger.

The City washes its hands and feels righteous. More than 10 000 people have lived here for over a decade. They feel more than aggrieved at the lack of services: power, water, sanitation, land. A Street Talk film, about to be released, sees locals speak of their plight.

National Parks says this is no wetland at all. It was compromised (ended) over 10 years ago due to urbanisation from all sides. They call it an (urban) reed bed with little, if any, environmental value.

The City has failed to acknowledge this for a reason. I suspect they don’t like the people of Masi. Yes, I suggest that race and class are at the root of this, and indeed, Masi does not vote DA. Masi’s services deteriorate each year.

After years of trying, in November 2017 the City was coerced into signing a settlement agreement by the public protector, the Human Rights Commission and Masiphumelele leadership, and former mayor Patricia de Lille.

The City promised to put services on to the land it bought for Masi (Erf 5131) to rehouse those in the “wetland” shacks. Nothing has happened. The promised Masi plan has not materialised.

The narrative of the “wetland” should read:

– The wetland water was privatised to the lakes at Lake Michelle upmarket estate and, by allowing this, the City itself destroyed the wetland.

– The City should take National Parks’ advice and de-proclaim this as a wetland.

– The City is dishonest because it plans to build a main road through this very “wetland”.

The City has, it seems, no intention and no plan to undo the apartheid city we inherited. The City has failed utterly. The City should now be taken to court for non-compliance of the agreement it entered into 15 months ago.

The City cannot stop urbanisation by making urban living for these people as unpleasant as possible.

This is apartheid discrimination by other means.

We must accept that the barrier apartheid upheld is the reason for the rapid influx now. This is not the fault of Masi residents.

In recent weeks, on a Sunday, another 30 Masi homes were destroyed by the City’s agents.

The City owes restitution and compensation for every home/shack it demolishes, not least because it has no plan where displaced people should go.

We urgently need a vision and an orderly plan which counters the coloured/brown, African/black and white/privilege geography of this City.

Anything short of it is apartheid by another name. Right now the City should be charged in court for its failure to honour the 2017 agreement.

Horst Kleinschmidt

St James