Elderly and disabled to move first in Covid-19 relocations in Cape Town

24 June 2020 - 09:41
The government is seeking to reduce congestion in informal settlements to control transmission of Covid-19 in these overcrowded areas.
The government is seeking to reduce congestion in informal settlements to control transmission of Covid-19 in these overcrowded areas.
Image: Thulani Mbele

The elderly and the disabled will be prioritised when thousands of residents in some Western Cape informal settlements are relocated to newer communities as part of the Covid-19 de-densification process.

The department of human settlements in the Western Cape says it plans to move 1,500 Dunoon residents, with planning and designing at a nearby piece of land already in motion.

Dunoon, one of Cape Town’s overcrowded communities, is one of three townships in the Western Cape that are set for de-densification as part of social distancing amid Covid-19. The other two areas where thousands are set to be relocated from are Kosovo and Khayelitsha.  

About 12,000 people live in 4,000 structures in Dunoon, while Kosovo is home to about 16,000 people. About 2,000 units from Kosovo and 3,000 units from Khayelitsha are also set to be relocated as part of the de-densification process.

The Western Cape MEC for human settlements, Tertius Simmers, said water-resistant and high durability alternative building material homes would be built at the 17.4 hectare Racing Park, which is adjacent to Dunoon

“The Dunoon site is partially serviced. There will be a need to upgrade sewer infrastructure and funding has been secured in this regard,” he said.

While Human Settlements is ready to build the first homes, Simmers said this process has been delayed by statutory planning processes such as rezoning, which is yet to be approved by the City of Cape Town.

“Unfortunately while the urgency for de-densification is broadly understood, there is still a need to comply with statutory processes and, in this case, rezoning land from agriculture and industrial use to mixed use to allow for the construction of the residential units,” said Simmers.

Beneficiaries of the new housing development, who will be relocated voluntarily,  will be identified from the City of Cape Town’s housing demand database. Simmers said the 1,500 families will not move to the site permanently.

“Instead, qualifying beneficiaries will be afforded an opportunity in one of our new units that will be built. The new units will be developed as part of the formal development process within the same footprint of the transitional development area. This is to minimise further relocations.

“Our primary aim is to assist the elderly and disabled in the area and there is a general acceptance to our plan. One concern is that it should not be too far from where they currently live. The Racing Park land parcel is within a one to five-kilometre radius.”

Councillor Malusi Booi, Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for human settlements, said the city is doing all it can “in the fastest time possible to roll out Covid-19 response”.

“It is being finalised this week and will be updated as the situation requires,” he said.

He said much of the city’s work, particularly that of the water and sanitation and solid waste departments, “is now possible after the national disaster declaration”. Booi said funding has been approved for the servicing of the Dunoon site.

Booi said there was no application for planning or development approval concerning the Kosovo and the Khayelitsha sites as the provincial government “is still securing the land for the development”.

“The city can only start performing on its responsibilities when all have been resolved. Even so, the city has proactively been planning so that it can forge ahead when called on,” he said.