Police shooting rubber bullets at Siqalo residents who marched, burnt tyres and blocked the Jakes Gerwel road with rocks and rubble, when they protested for electricity and houses. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency/ANA

Cape Town - MEC for Housing Bonginkosi Madikizela has promised the people of Siqalo informal settlement and Mitchells Plain that plans are under way to move residents from the informal settlements into houses.

This follows a week of violent protests that left one person dead and two others injured when the neighbouring residents clashed over road closures during service delivery protests.

In a meeting with leaders from both communities on Saturday, Madikizela attempted to calm the situation by outlining his department’s and the City of Cape Town’s plans to ensure both parties were satisfied.

Siqalo, near Vanguard Drive, has a long history of protest action since it was formed when land grabs began in early 2012.

The piece of land that belongs to Lyton Props Twelve and Ross Demolition has been at the centre of a lengthy court battle that has stalled following revelations by the city and provincial government that talks had collapsed as the landowners were attempting to force a sale of the land for exorbitant amounts.

On Saturday Madikizela said the process of accommodating the people of Siqalo had taken so long because of the demand for housing within the province and the need to work on a first-come, first-serve basis.

He said the province had half a million people on the housing list and his budget of R2.2 billion could see to the provision of those services to only around 18 000 people. 

He said the province had around 500 informal settlements.

“We did not want it to appear as though we were seen to be prioritising the people of Siqalo. The reason I am intervening now, working with the City of Cape Town, is that a number of old informal settlements in terms of our priority list are being taken care of.

“We started to have a discussion around the fact that Siqalo has been there for seven or eight years, which means we can have discussions to include them in our broader developments because now we are talking about a long-term solution for the people of Siqalo.

“But our plan as provincial government and the City of Cape Town is that we are going to move the people of Siqalo from where they are. We have embarked on a process to acquire a number of pockets of land. Farm 694 is something we are busy with where we are accommodating people of Kosovo and the people of Ward 94.

“Now in our discussion, we agreed that the people of Siqalo will be accommodated on this 52 hectares of land. We will have enough land to start the process of accommodate people of Siqalo.

“We are here to say as we wait for approval, we must start the process of profiling the people of Siqalo and we do this because we want people who are going to benefit from the planned development to be people who meet the qualifying criteria. And one of the most important criteria is that people who were previously assisted by government must not expect to be assisted again.

“I want to make it categorically clear that we are not interested in buying that land. It is not suitable for human habitation and it is too expensive. Mr Ross is not being reasonable. As soon as next week, we must have a meeting with Mr Ross. All we want from him is one thing: we don’t want to buy his land, we want him to give us access to his land to provide services to the people of Siqalo while they are still there.”

Community leader, Monwabisi Futshane questioned Madikizela about how far away from their current homes they would have to move, as many wanted to stay close to work.

“I have become very reluctant to disclose details of the land we are in the process of buying because the minute you announce that, the following day, that land is being invaded,” said Madikizela.

Asked what assurances he could provide that once the residents of Siqalo were moved, no other occupiers would take their place, Madikizela said it was not the government’s job to provide security for privately owned land.

Weekend Argus