Too many foreigners living in fire-ravaged shack settlement: Housing MEC

14 March 2017 - 15:39 By Aphiwe Deklerk
Plumes of smoke bellows from shacks engulfed by flames at Imizamo Yethu, Hout Bay.
Plumes of smoke bellows from shacks engulfed by flames at Imizamo Yethu, Hout Bay.

A permanent solution to the housing crisis in Imizamo Yethu informal settlement is a pipe dream if Housing MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela’s statements are anything to go by.

Addressing the Human Settlements portfolio committee of the Western Cape legislature on Tuesday‚ Madikizela said there are too many foreigners living there and they cannot receive a housing subsidy from his department.

A fire at the weekend destroyed about 4000 shacks. “The biggest issue that we are going to have to confront is that we have too many non-South Africans who will not qualify and that is a conversation we must have with the leadership there‚ as to what we are going to do with those people‚” said Madikizela.

He cautioned MPL from the committee against raising unrealistic expectations as the policy of the South African government didn’t allow for any form of housing subsidy to foreign nationals.

In addition he said many of the South Africans living there do not qualify for subsidies under government's regulations. Some‚ he said‚ earn to much every month. As a result the permanent eradication of the shacks in the area is unlikely to happen.

“Shacks are still going to be in Imizamo Yethu [even after houses are built] because those people who do not qualify are still going to live in those shacks‚” said Madikizela. He was addressing the committee just two days after the devastating fire‚ allegedly started by an unattended candle‚ ravaged through the informal settlement near Hout Bay‚ leaving 15 000 people homeless.

Since the fire‚ a number of NGOs‚ the City of Cape Town and Madikizela’s department have been working non-stop to send aid to the affected residents. On Tuesday Human Settlements Minister‚ Lindiwe Sisulu‚ will visit the affected areas together with Madikizela. A number of the residents who have lost the homes are currently housed in community centres‚ although some had already started to rebuild their structures.

Asked if there was a way to educate residents about preventing fire‚ Madikizela said Imizamo Yethu was too congested. He said before the fire‚ his department had been engaging the community about development in the area and that a study by the city had shown that 40% of the residents were prepared to relocate to a new site.

Also addressing the committee‚ Thando Mguli - the province’s head of department - said high-level meetings are taking place between the city and the province to assist Imizamo Yethu residents.

- TMG Digital/The Times