Vukani land grabs continue


A structure being built in a land grab under way near Vukani. The family building this say they cannot afford to pay rent. Photo: Lindani Donyeli

As people continue to parcel off municipal land adjacent to Vukani, officials say occupying empty land will not solve the city’s housing problems and that rather than breaking the law, the people engaged in land grabs should get their names on to Makana’s housing list.

Grocott’s Mail reported last week that on Tuesday 31 July, scores of people took out measuring tools, shovels and pickaxes and began allocating themselves lots of land. The residents said they were sick of paying rent. With the tools, men and women  started setting up structures.

Vukani resident Thenjiswa Ngqinzi lives on the edge of Vukani, close to where the land grabbers are building.

“I like it. It makes me feel happy because people are not going to throw away their rubbish and dead dogs opposite my house any more,” Ngqinzi said. “It will [hamper]those who steal our stuff and run into the bush.”

Ngqinzi sympathises with residents who can’t afford rent, so she see’s nothing wrong with what they’re doing and hopes they get electricity soon.

Melikhaya Mduva Dyongman, a member of the self-appointed committee allocating land, said, ”People are very happy and excited; it is one of the things they have been looking forward to. The number of people who are registering [with the self-appointed committee]is rising daily.”

Dyongman says he hopes the settlers can get electricity as soon as possible. He said they hadn’t spoken to the ward councilor.

“The land we are giving is not in Vukani. We are building in the bush,” said Dyongman.

Thembakazi Seyisi is the ward councilor for Ward 13, which includes Vukani.

When Grocott’s Mail spoke to her, she was not aware of the land grabs.

“The land that is available should be used for service delivery,” Seyisi told Grocott’s Mail. “The building of community halls and creches for the common good. Setting up a squatter camps is illegal,” said Seyisi.

Seyisi said residents should ensure their names are on the housing list. Phase 2 of the Mayfield development will house Human settlement to build houses, there is going to be phase 2 that will be built. She believes, that those who are renting should be the first priority especially the elders said Seyisi, but Seyisi is not aware when that will happen. Seyisi hopes that the Human Settlement can start soon so that people get houses and she does feel the pain of the community members.

Yoliswa Ramakolo Spoke Person for the Municipality “We understand the plight of people who need houses. We have a housing backlog of more than 14 000 in Makana and that is a very huge number. However, illegally occupying empty land will not solve anything but will just bring problems to the people because that is a crime. People cannot just erect shacks wherever they see empty pockets of land. The municipality has a by-law against the illegal occupation of land, we will have to act according to that by-law. People need to go and register for houses at the Housing department in Joza so that they are on the list” said Ramakolo

According to Makana’s website, planned housing development includes Mayfield Phase 2 Stage 1 (1000 units); Mayfield Phase 2 Stage 2 (1260 units); Ethembeni (2000 units); Alicedale (360 units); Fort Brown (360 units) and Seven Fountain (360 units).

“This will also bring relief to the plight of communities in dire need for housing development,” the website states.

Mayfield Phase 2 and other new housing developments have stalled because Makana’s waste-water treatment works (Mayfield and Belmont Valley) and existing reticulation are inadequate to cope with existing demand. In an interview with Grocott’s Mail at the start of his five-year term with Makana, new municipal manager Moppo Mene said he intended to be systematic about applying for grant funding (which is required for upgrading sewage infrastructure among other priorities).

During a visit by Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation to Grahamstown (Makhanda) on 24 July, DWS Provincial Director Portia Makhanya said her department had red-flagged the upgrading of Belmont and Mayfield waste water treatment works as essential not only for existing demand but also future development.

“These are projects we have ensured are in our Minister’s budget,” Makhanya said at the time.

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