Former MEC of Human Settlements Bonginkosi Madikizela in Kuils River. File photo: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA).
Cape Town - Residents of Hornlee in Knysna met on Thursday night to decide whether to resume their service delivery protests aimed at the municipality over the twin issues of land and housing being made available for backyard dwellers and the installation of prepaid water meters in their area.

The protests were suspended at the beginning of April after the community handed over a memorandum to then Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela and Knysna mayor Mark Willemse outlining their demands and concerns.

Speaking on behalf of the residents’ group Hornlee United, local businessman Ralph Stander said: “We are very frustrated. The MEC lied to us when he visited us in April but there has been no movement on our issues, and now we must go back to burning tyres.”

Informed that the new Human Settlements MEC, Tertius Simmers, had visited Knysna on Wednesday and toured a number of housing developments in the area, Stander said: “We heard that the MEC was coming but we thought it was his predecessor, and so we stayed away from anywhere he might have gone.”

Stander said that if he had known it was Simmers, a former mayco member on the corporate services, roads and asset management committee, as well as speaker of the Eden District municipality, he might have had a different attitude, as “at least Simmers is familiar with the area and its problems”.

“We would have given him a chance before judging him.”

The Hornlee residents demand that prepaid water meters be removed as indigent residents who could not afford to pay for water would be cut off from a basic human right.

They also want the land from which they were forcefully moved during apartheid returned to them and an increase in the number of houses the provincial government was planning to build in the area.

“The fact that only 50 houses will be built over the next two years in Hornlee is making us all very sad. It is discrimination as nobody in Hornlee has received a house in the last 20 years despite some being on the housing list for up to 15 years.”

Willemse earlier said: “While there are certainly issues in Hornlee, it is an ongoing discussion. I’m all for engagement and I like to engage with all sectors of the community here in Knysna.”

He said the municipality had “projects in the pipeline in places such as Smutsville and Hornlee”.

The mayor said that, “as the municipality, we are proud of the fact that we spend their entire housing budget every year”.

Willemse said they had invested in the upgrading and renewal of existing infrastructure, and that “this is an important means of promoting sustainable growth and reducing poverty”.

Meanwhile, Simmers is on a tour of municipalities across the province, accompanied by departmental officials.

According to his spokesperson, Marcellino Martin: “The MEC is visiting various housing development sites as part of his mission to change the face of human settlements.”

@MwangiGithahu

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Cape Argus