DURBAN 18-01-2012 Ward Councillor Mzi Ngiba and the Mayor James Nxumalo at the Meeting with Residents of Cato-Crest. Picture: S'bonelo Ngcobo

The controversy around the flattening of shacks to build low-cost houses in the Cato Crest informal settlement in Durban has been amicably resolved, with eThekwini mayor James Nxumalo announcing that the demolitions are to be suspended.

Addressing hundreds of residents in Cato Crest on Wednesday, Nxumalo said the demolitions would continue once his municipality found alternative accommodation for those whose houses were to be razed. He said residents would find out about accommodation arrangements on February 5.

It is estimated that more than 2 000 residents would have to abandon their shacks.

Nxumalo said the municipality had allocated more than R34 million to build more than 1 500 houses in the area.

There are also many tenants of shack owners who will be left without accommodation when the shacks are demolished. Nxumalo said these tenants would be given temporary accommodation and in future would be given houses.

“The problem of informal settlements will never be solved if new people move into the area once they hear about this low-cost housing project. So please do not invite your relatives and friends from other areas to come here,” he said.

Residents had been asked to find temporary alternative accommodation and to wait for their homes to be completed. This sparked a war of words between DA members and ANC ward councillor Mzi Ngiba.

The DA pressed the municipality to stop the process and to make it eThekwini’s responsibility to find alternative accommodation. The party also demanded that the municipality give assurances that tenants would also get low-cost houses.

Fifty shacks have been demolished, some without their owners’ consent.

DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard said:

“The owners of the 50 demolished shacks should not worry because their houses will be built soon.” - The Mercury