We've got news for you.

Register on TimesLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now

Almost R4m worth of temporary housing building materials dumped

Councillor blames disagreement in the community

23 November 2020 - 13:15 By Siphokazi Mnyobe and GroundUp
The temporary building material dumped on vacant land at the airport in Plettenberg Bay.
The temporary building material dumped on vacant land at the airport in Plettenberg Bay.
Image: GroundUp/Siphokazi Mnyobe

Close to R4m worth of temporary housing building material has been lying unused on vacant land at the airport in Plettenberg Bay, in the Western Cape, since 2018.

The material was to be used to create a temporary relocation area to house 71 households whose homes were gutted by fire in June 2018. The fire destroyed 39 shacks in Kurland, 26 in Qolweni, four in Kwa-Nokuthula and two RDP houses.

Bitou municipality applied to the national department of human settlements for housing assistance. The Treasury allocated R3.9m to the Municipality Emergency Housing Programme for the establishment of the Qolweni and Kurland transit camp.

However, the Bitou municipality had already supplied emergency materials for fire victims to rebuild their shacks.

The units provided by the department and funded by the Treasury were instead dumped on the vacant land near the airport.

Two families who lost their homes in the fire in Zaziwa, Kurland, said they had not received zinc sheets from the municipality, and could have benefited from the materials dumped at the airport site.

Neighbours who had received material to rebuild their shacks said it was insufficient, and they had to scrounge for more.

Nogudile Nogemani, from Zaziwa, stays in her daughter’s two-room home built from recycled material and wood she collected. Her leaking roof is made from one of the zinc sheets burnt by the fire.

“The electric meter box was destroyed during the fire,” she said. She now cooks on an open fire and uses paraffin and candles for light.

Nolufefe Mabona, who also survived the fire, says: “I am still recovering.  I am unemployed, so my house is empty with no furniture. My child and I sleep on the same bed.

“I had to use of the old zinc burnt by the fire. I lost my identity documents, my child’s birth certificate, grant cards and winter clothes. It was hard to get new documents for myself and my child.”

Ward 1 councillor Jessica Kam-Kam (DA) said, “After the [shack] material was delivered to people in Kurland and Qolweni, the municipality applied for funding from the human settlements department for emergency units.

“When the new emergency units arrived in the community, conflict occurred with community members who lost their shacks to fire previously. They wanted to understand why these [new fire victim] residents would be provided with material twice, and why is it only them,” she said.

She said the community took a decision not to accept the materials.

She said the municipality decided to make use of the structures for Kurland residents registered to get RDP houses, but the residents refused, saying they would only move from their shacks into RDP houses, not to an emergency unit.

Kam-Kam said it was proposed the structures could be used for people living in unbearable conditions.

Bitou municipality has not responded to our questions.

This article was first published by GroundUp.