Pretoria - Backyard dwellers suffer the same squalor as their informal settlement counterparts - only they are expected to pay for their appalling conditions.
On top of this, they said on Wednesday, when RDP houses were allocated they were left off the list because authorities treated them as if they had a home.
Desperate times, they say, call for desperate measures, whether that is a protest or erecting a shack in an informal settlement to “qualify” to be on the RDP list.
Almost every third house in Olievenhoutsbosch Extension 2, for instance, has an average of seven shacks in its yard.
In one the Pretoria News saw nine one-room shacks a few metres wide, cheek by jowl with barely any privacy.
Most are poorly constructed and lack reliable water, sanitation and electricity.
Yet, these backyard dwellers say they pay an average of R500 a month for the space on which they erect their shacks, while those in informal settlements live rent free. They are upset that the city gives preference to shack dwellers of Mooiplaas when it comes to the allocation of houses in the area.
They were seen to have better living conditions because they had “an address” - that of the owner of the property, they say.
Chairman of Olievenhoutbosch Backyard Dwellers, Muzi Sithebe, said they suffered the same as informal settlement dwellers with the only difference being - they paid.
“We too live in squalor. The only difference is that we have an address and we pay our landlords,” he said.
Sithebe said the backyard dwellers in the area were considering moving to the informal settlements, so that they would be considered for RDP houses.
Backyard dweller David Ratshowenyana is renting a 3mx4m shack for R500 a month with his wife and two children.
“We pay our rent on time but we don’t get the services we need,” he said. They lived in overcrowded conditions, which his neighbour Tawananyasha Simanga, labelled “horrendous”.
Their appeal is centred on the allocation of about 5 000 RDP houses in the township, with many claiming that people from outside their community had been given keys ahead of them.
The city had previously said it would move some Mooiplaas residents and provide RDP housing for them in extension 27.
“We were here first. We are waiting for houses,” an angry Olievenhoutbosch resident said.
Sithebe said in 2012, then premier Nomvula Mokonyane promised them the land.
But, instead of taking backyard dwellers, they were favouring those in Mooiplaas, Sithebe said.
Residents met Safety and Security MMC Terrence Mashego to discuss their grievances and were waiting for a follow up meeting.
Mayoral spokesman Blessing Manale said land had been procured in Olievenhoutbosch Extension 36 for close on 1 000 units to benefit backyard dwellers. Engagements had been held with the province to ring-fence R2.5 billion over three years for provision of services.