Gauteng under shack attack

02 April 2014 - 02:00 By Penwell Dlamini
The people of Phomolong informal settlement, in Atteridgeville, Pretoria. File photo.
The people of Phomolong informal settlement, in Atteridgeville, Pretoria. File photo.

Gauteng is faced with a growing problem as the number of informal settlements continues to rise despite billions of rands spent to eradicate shacks.

Human settlement operations CEO Malibongwe Kanjane described the challenge faced by the province as a moving target as the population was increasing.

Informal settlements have been at the forefront of service delivery protests as residents demand houses and basic services. In 2005, Gauteng had 405 informal settlements. Now there are 532, a jump of 31% in nine years.

This is despite Gauteng building 20000 housing units in each year.

Kanjane said of the original 405 settlements 122 were deemed suitable for development. Of these, about 90 have been eradicated or formalised. Suitability studies are being conducted on 56 others, he said.

The department has had to be innovative in the way it eradicates settlements.

"We destroy the settlements and move people to a formal housing development and then you . reclaim the space and do not leave it open. If you do not do so, other people can spot that area and see it suitable for building shacks," he said.

In some instances government has had to purchase private land, Kanjane said.

He said some property owners encouraged people to move on to their land in the hope that government would buy and develop it.

Kanjane declined to give the actual housing backlog in the province.

"In Gauteng we are not just dealing with a backlog but we are also chasing the new demand. The demand is forever growing," he said.

He said in some informal settlements, the majority of residents were foreign nationals and rental stock was required.