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Informal settlements cause anxiety among Isipingo Beach residents

Published Feb 21, 2020


Durban - LIVING near the seaside has turned into a nightmare for Isipingo Beach residents.

They are no longer greeted by the sight of crashing waves or the smell of the sea. Some now have to contend with informal dwellings and pit toilets on their doorsteps.

With the country’s unemployment rate at 29%, the burgeoning of informal settlements in South Africa has become a daily reminder of the hardships many face.

Senior citizens living in a four-storey building along the beach say while they are aware of the realities of the homeless, the unhygienic conditions in the area have become a health hazard.

They said they bought flats in Isipingo Beach more than 20 years ago as an investment but the Dakota Informal Settlement was not what they envisioned when they retired.

One of the residents look over the balcony at the burgeoning informal settlements in Isipingo Beach.

Picture: Leon Lestrade / African News Agency (ANA)

“Living here has become unbearable. It’s a nightmare,” said a 64-year-old resident, who declined to be named.

“I always wanted a flat that overlooks the beach, so when I bought this place 28 years ago it was a dream come true. There was a scattering of shacks but they were further away.

“Now there are hundreds of shacks and they are edging closer. This was supposed to be my retirement home but every morning I fear what I will wake up to.”

He said new dwellings were erected on a nearby bank and with that three pit toilets were built.

“This is not the ablution facility that was built for the other dwellers. These are pit toilets and now there is an infestation of flies, cockroaches and rodents.

“As a result, I cannot sit on my balcony and watch the ships. I have to keep my windows and doors closed due to the stench. Now with the heat, things are worse.”

The resident said he called the eThekwini Municipality’s land invasion unit last week when he noticed another shack being built.

“If we remain quiet, more shacks will be built. While we understand people are without homes, it also important to respect other’s properties.”

Another resident said the failings of the government to provide for those in need should not impact on ratepayers.

“We ensure our rates and utility bills are paid on time and we deserve the right to live comfortably,” said the 66-year-old.

She has lived in the building for 27years.

A 52-year-old woman who lives with her 82-year-old mother added: “All we see from our window is refuse on the banks. There are tin cans, beer bottles and dirty nappies. This beautiful place is now a dump site.

“Even if we decide to sell, who would want to buy properties here?”  

Isipingo councillor Shad Nowbuth said: “While we empathise with the informal dwellers, as they also want proper homes promised years ago, the residents are concerned about their health and properties.”  

He said the matter was reported to the city’s health division and that he emailed officials last Friday, seeking a resolution.

Sunil Brijmohan, the Isipingo ward90 councillor, said the city was working on building three housing projects. He said vacant sites in Isipingo were identified.

“People living in low-lying areas and banks, which are affected by flooding, will be given preference. We are looking to house about 1 550 residents.”

George Bonono, the deputy president of Abahlali baseMjondolo, a shack-dwellers’ movement, said: “It is clear the Department of Human Settlement faces a housing backlog, but we are asking for the dwellers to be given electricity, water and toilets.

“These are basic services that every person has the right to.”

The municipality did not comment. 


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