Capetown-140710-Langa Hostel development project- PICTURE by BHEKI RADEBE

Cape Town - Unhappiness over the allocation of new houses in Langa was one of the issues that led to the area being shut down during a violent protest this week.

Residents have questioned the way beneficiaries were selected to get houses under the Langa Hostel Transformation Programme which began about two months ago.

The project cost about R510 million.

They alleged the selection process was unfair.

A Langa resident who identified himself as Ndumiso said: “I was born here and I am 30 now. We have been backyard dwellers all our lives. We were told a certain number of people would be located to those houses. Why are they leaving us behind?”

The city said it planned to build 463 rental apartments to replace hostels that were more than 40 years old.

“Construction of 463 rental apartments in Langa began as part of the first phase of the city’s Hostel Transformation Programme,” said mayco member for human settlements Siyabulela Mamkeli.

“The 463 units, to be built over the next two years on the Old Depot Site in Langa, form part of the first phase of a project which will ultimately see the construction of approximately 1 320 units within the next five years.”

Langa was inaccessible on Wednesday as more than 5 000 residents took to the streets and vehicles were prevented from entering and leaving the township.

“The start of the project in Langa is a massive step in our efforts to ultimately eradicate the horrific hostels inherited from the apartheid housing policies,” Mamkeli said. “Under the apartheid regime, the hostels provided accommodation in single-gender dormitories for migrant labourers who possessed ‘bed cards’ which allowed them to occupy a bed in a room.

“Since the repeal of the influx control legislation and the advent of democracy, many ‘bed card’ holders have naturally been joined by their families seeking a better life in the city. This has led to extreme overcrowding and an inevitable deterioration in the provision of sanitation and ablutions as well as social space available in the hostel precincts.”

During the first phase, 463 households from the “New Flats” and “Special Quarters” hostels and the Siyahlala informal settlement will be relocated to the new houses.

It is envisaged that 1 300 families or about 5 200 people will be relocated from the hostels to secure two-bedroom apartments which have individual kitchenettes, toilets, showers and solar-heated water systems. The project also includes wash-lines and space for children to play in the grounds.

“The Langa Project Steering Committee is assisting in the identification and verification of beneficiaries,” said Mamkeli.

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Cape Times