Open Letter from 80 concerned neighbours

to our Premier, Mayor and local Councillors

 

No more charity – but true sharing of land and housing !

Sonele zizibonelelo zethutyana – masabelane  ngomhlaba nezindlu ngokupheleleyo!

Beweeg weg van liefdadigheid – na eweredige verdeling van grond en behuising !

 

An initiative in the Far South Peninsula against poverty, crime and disaster,

and for peace, prosperity and decent housing for all

 

Overcoming poverty is not an act of charity, it is a task of justice.”  Nelson Mandela

 

Dear Premier Zille, dear Mayor de Lille,

Dear Councilors Purchase, Nikelo, Francke, D’Alton and Liell-Cock                  January 2014

 

On 1 December 2013, four days before Madiba passed away, four residents of the informal settlement Wetlands in Masiphumelele lost their lives in a fire which also destroyed the homes of about 200 people. On Christmas Day, 25 December, a mother died in another fire which destroyed the homes of 20 families. These were not the first fires in this area and we all know that they will not be the last ones. The situation is getting worse every year. Charity is not enough anymore. To forget even one of the victims is forgetting Madiba’s legacy.

 

Aftermath of fire in Masiphumelele. Photo courtesy of People’s Post, False Bay edition, Thursday 12 December 2013.

Aftermath of fire in Masiphumelele. Photo courtesy of People’s Post, False Bay edition, Thursday 12 December 2013.

How long can we – all of us living in the far south Peninsula – continue to ignore growing and extreme poverty? Is there another way, other than food parcels and starter kits, to create social justice – not in general, but here where we live? What can we – each of us – do to reduce poverty, crime and disasters and ensure peace, prosperity, decent housing and jobs for all within a sustainable natural environment?

 

We, citizens living and working in the far south Peninsula, know that there are many residents, women and men, with diverse languages, religions and political opinions, rich or poor or middle class, who all want to live peacefully together and who are deeply concerned about the extreme growing poverty of some among us. Contemporary ideology naturalizes inequality – renders it normal and expectable. But when the dispossessed rise up in anger and desperation, there is shock and surprise.

 

There are three key steps we urge you to take to prevent the escalating disparities between rich and poor exploding in our faces, be it with growing crime or political extremism.

 

These actions are independent of party politics. They are to be implemented irrespective of election dates. We have listened to members of different communities and there are many who are ready to support and contribute once they see visible change, professionally done with no corruption or nepotism. We have started with 80 first signatories representing recognized and community-involved citizens and organizations in the far south Peninsula – we do encourage others to join and sign as well to make our voices heard.

 

With this Open Letter we are urging you, the responsible authorities,

  • to examine our proposed key steps carefully,
  • to respond promptly to the signatories of this appeal (especially those representing the Masiphumelele community) by outlining your intentions,
  • to work together with all directly concerned to change the frightening and dangerous cycle of poverty in our area.

 

Proposed first three steps

One – Ensure access for emergency vehicles and basic services

Proactive planning to “re-block” shacks so as to create access roads for emergency vehicles and basic services is essential.  Access to basic services will reduce the risk of disease from waste and polluted water. Access for emergency vehicles will reduce the devastating impact of fires. A planned process involving elected leaders of the different settlement sections must start immediately. This should include incentives for those who cooperate in making space. We can learn from other poor communities in the Western Cape where – with the assistance of the Informal Settlement Network (ISN) – this process of “re-blocking” the shacks has effectively created space for access roads and basic services. We offer to assist with fundraising to rebuild shacks with fire resisting material. We believe this can be achieved before the next winter in 2014.

 

Two – Provide a second access road

For years a second access road for the overcrowded community of Masiphumelele has been promised. Extending Houmoed Road between Fish Eagle Park and Myeza Road was a condition prior to building government housing (phase 4). It is unacceptable that a community of more than 40 000 residents are locked in by walls on two sides (towards Lekkerwater Road and Fish Eagle Park) and the wetlands on the third side, with just one access road (Pokela Road). The chaos when emergency vehicles attempt to access Kommetjie Road means risking lives. We request that the second access road be built in 2014.

 

Three – Conduct a land and infrastructure audit to identify space and facilities that will be required for the creation of new, diverse villages

There has been not enough political will to identify land in our area suitable for housing for lower income groups. There has also been not enough political will to invest in infrastructure. We suspect that (as happened during the past years) any land audit will continue to tell us that land is either privately owned or that city land is not feasible for housing. We agree that the plan should not be to extend Masiphumelele. Rather we need to create villages for diverse income groups, villages which offer excellent social and cultural services at the same time as protecting our natural environment. These villages will be economically attractive human settlements with small businesses contributing to job creation. Land that is currently not feasible for development should be considered for upgrading for human habitation. We expect to see serious efforts in this direction.

 

Madiba’s legacy is to learn to live together despite differences, on the basis of true sharing and mutual respect for decent and peaceful living without the scourges of crime and violence. We are convinced it is possible.

 

Appeal written by Prof. Andy Dawes (UCT, Faculty of Humanities) and Dr Lutz van Dijk (Co-Founder of the HOKISA Children’s Home and voluntary fundraiser for the Amakhaya ngoku Housing Project in Masiphumelele). Both are residents in Clovelly.

 

If you want to add your signature to this appeal please go to: http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/overcomingpoverty

 

Archbishop em. Desmond Tutu has endorsed this appeal with the words:

I hope your plan will succeed. It must!”

 See also: http://scenicsouth.co.za/2014/01/article-in-the-cape-times-by-dr-paul-hendler-on-amakhaya-ngoku-housing-project-in-masiphumelele-and-langrug-development/

First 80 signatories

Keith Alcock (Chair, in personal capacity, of Simon’s Town Business Association)

Janeen and Richard Alford (Fish Hoek Life Saving Club)

Sue Alexander (Director, Staff and Volunteers at Masiphumelele Library)

Colette Ashton (former guest house manager, Noordhoek)

Glenn Ashton (Environmentalist, Noordhoek)

Nic Bothma (Photographer, Fish Hoek)

Prof Geoff Brundrit (Simon’s Town)

Peter Clarke (Visual artist and writer, Ocean View)

Daphne and Des Cohen (Volunteer at Masiphumelele library and ret. Businessman, Lake Michelle)

Robyn Cohen, Mandisa Mahlumba, Eunice Mbanjwa, Karin Chubb, Perry Tsang (HOKISA Children’s Home in Masiphumelele)

Judy and Prof Julian Cooke (Editor “Architecture SA”, Kalk Bay)

Nicola Cox (Work for Love NGO in Masiphumelele, resident in Noordhoek)

Lucille Dawkshas (History Teacher at Masiphumelele High School, resident in Muizenberg)

Pastor Patrick Diba (Baptist Church in Masiphumelele)

Patrick Dowling (Far South Civic Activist in Kommetjie)

Alan Ferguson (President of Rotary Club Cape of Good Hope)

Mariella Garuti (Ceramic artist, Clovelly)

Prof Denis Goldberg (Rivonia Trialist with Madiba/22 year sentence, Houtbay)

Vincent Green (Interior Designer, Milkwood Park)

Derek Gripper (Educationalist, Glencairn)

Nombulelo Gunuza (Manyano Group – Women of the Churches in Masiphumelele)

Dawn Hare, Richard Parsons (Fish Hoek-Kommetjie-Noordhoek Welfare Association)

Andre van Heerden (Owner of Sunny Acres Shopping Center, Sunnydale)

Viv von der Heyden (Scenic South Community Website, Fish Hoek)

Nicki Holderness (Alderman, Simon’s Town)

Janet Holwill, Steve Perett, Allen Rose-Innes (Exco Members of Fish Hoek Rate Payers’ Association)

Rob Hughes (Electrician, Fish Hoek)

Dr Peter Jacka (GP in Masiphumelele, resident in Noordhoek)

Nelisa Jange (Community Development Worker in Masiphumelele)

Kyoko Kimura (Artist, Clovelly)

Peter Kjeseth (Guesthouse owner, Sunny Cove)

Harold Kolnik (Real Estate Agent, Scarborough)

Andrew Langridge (Electrician , Clovelly)

Nontembiso Madikane (former Councilor, Vuka Mama Women’s Group in Masiphumelele)

Vusumzi Mayisela (Bambanani ncedisizwe, Safety and Security Organization in Masiphumelele)

Malcolm McCarthy (General Manager National Association of Social Housing Organisations  (NASHO), technical Consultant Social and Gap Housing and Integrated Development Planning, Kalk Bay)

Tshepo Moletsane (Informal Settlement Forum in Masiphumelele)

Jonathan Morgan (Psychologist, Clovelly)

Palesa Morudu (Managing Director at Cover2Cover publisher, Muizenberg)

Bheki Mvovo, Nthabiseng Lichaba (Chair and CEO of Amakhaya ngoku Housing Project in Masiphumelele)

Sonwabiso Ngcowa (Writer, Masiphumelele)

Mfundiso Ngetu (Isiqalo Backyarders’ Organization in Masiphumelele)

Simphiwe Nkomombini (Youth Leader in Masiphumelele)

Dr Graham Noble (Exco Member of the Scarborough Ratepayers and Residents Association)

Dr Shelley O’Carroll (Director Wordworks, St James)

Di Oliver, Horst Kleinschmidt, Ronnie Kasrils (ubuMelwane-Neighborhood, residents in Marina da Gama, St James and Kalk Bay)

Lungelo Payi (Professional rugby player and coach, resident in Fish Hoek)

Sam Pearce (Harlequin Foundation and eMzantsi Carnival, resident in Noordhoek)

Lezanne Raath (Sinethemba Special Care Centre in Masiphumelele)

Muriel Rubin (ret. Associate Lecturer, Open University/UK, Kalk Bay)

Prof. Neville Rubin (University Teacher of Law and ret. UN civil servant, Kalk Bay)

Diane Salters (Psychotherapist, Simon’s Town)

Mark Sampson (Comedian, Noordhoek)

Monika du Sautoy, Uwe Hass, Diana Higgs, Tim Skea, Melanie Steyn, Judy Whittaker (St Francis Outreach Trust in Simon’s Town, founder of the “Homes to Grow” Childrens’ Home in Masiphumelele)

Dr Lesley Shackleton (Member of Exec Committees: Simon’s Town Civic Association, Simon’s Town Business Association, Far South Peninsula Community Forum)

John Shaw (Architect, Fish Hoek)

Rev Prof Peter Storey (former President of the Methodist Church of South Africa, resident in Simon’s Town)

Gladys Thomas (Writer, Ocean View)

Pastor John and Avril Thomas (Living Hope – Kommetjie, Noordhoek, Masiphumelele)

Mary and Prof Ben Turok (Activists, Noordhoek)

Rev Rodney Whiteman (Rector of the Parish of St. Margaret’s Anglican Church in Fish Hoek)