Fee bearing image – Cape Town – 140318 – Various families get keys to their houses on condition that they demolish their present houses in the informal settlement in Grassy Park. Reporter: Siyavuya Mzantsi. Photographer: Armand Hough

Cape Town -

Residents of Zilleraine Heights informal settlement near Grassy Park have complained of being held to ransom by the city, which demanded they demolish their shacks before they were given keys to RDP houses.

The residents were to be given formal houses during a housing handover at Pelican Park on Tuesday, but said the city ordered them to first demolish their shacks.

Less than half of Zilleraine Heights residents started destroying their shacks as they chased the 3pm deadline which the city gave them.

The majority of residents refused and said they had not been given any notice about destroying their shacks.

Eleanor Hoedemaker said her family refused to destroy their shack.

“We are not prepared to demolish our shack. They take us for granted. How can they only come this morning and tell us to remove our structures?

“This shows that these people are taking us for granted.

“No one here knew about this thing of pulling down our homes. It took us almost two months to settle here and they don’t even give us a month’s notice.

“What if you don’t meet the deadline, which is 3pm, it means you going to sleep on the streets because they are not going to give you the keys to your house,” Hoedemaker said. Mother of four Rachieda Matthews broke down her shack.

“I am very frustrated and I can’t even think right now. This morning we were told by the officials from the City of Cape Town that before we could get keys to our houses, we have to destroy our shacks. It was this morning they told us about this,” she said.

Another resident, Filidene Fransman, said: “We will sleep on the streets. We have nowhere else to stay.

“This is shocking to me because they did not even give us a notice. This is stressful because it took us a while to build this shack as no one here works.”

Mayoral committee member for human settlements, Tandeka Gqada said the residents were notified last week.

“Approximately half of the residents were contacted and advised by the city that they would have to produce a certificate confirming that their informal structure had been demolished,” Gqada said.

A city official was sent to Zilleraine Heights to check whether residents had dismantled their shacks.

“The city requested residents to inform each other in the settlement. A number of residents understood and started demolishing early yesterday morning,” Gqada said.

“The city therefore expects that when a formal house is given to a beneficiary from an informal settlement such as Zilleraine Heights, that the beneficiary should demolish their old structure as it is no longer required,” she said.

Gqada said the residents were given approximately six days’ notice.

“Some of the residents refused to move today and the city will accommodate them in the next batch of handovers next week,” Gqada said.

Cape Times