Dear Neighbors in the Far South Peninsula

 

This morning, 10 February,  from 7.15-9.15 am an elected delegation from Masiphumelele representing all forums regarding Informal Settlements, Backyarders and Homeless People(see names on top of attached briefing paper), the authors of the appeal (Andy Dawes and Lutz van Djik) and Steve Perrett, as a “witness” representing the Fish Hoek Valley Ratepayers & Residents  Association and the Far South Peninsula Community Forum, met with Premier Helen Zille, Mayor Patricia de Lille, Minister for Human Settlements Mr Bonginkosi  Madikizela,  Mayco Member for Human Settlements Ms Tandeka Gqada, Mark Wiley (MP for our area), our Ward Councilor Ms Felicity Purchase, PR Councilor Mzuvukile Nikelo and several other senior officials to discuss the three suggestions made in our appeal.

 

The Premier, who chaired the meeting, expressed her appreciation for the careful and well prepared manner in which the concerns were addressed and the efforts by the community of Masiphumelele to speak with one unified voice. We mentioned the importance of also having received for the first time ever the support of so many neighbours in the Far South Peninsula who want to see sustainable and environmentally positive improvements to living conditions in the poorest parts of Masiphumelele in order for all to live with more peace and less crime (so far more than 600 additional supporters have signed the appeal on the petition website in less than 4 weeks: www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/overcomingpoverty ).

 

Since the appeal was published on 14 January, we were able to add some important facts to our appeal that made it more informed with practical suggestions for the way forward. Please see our one page briefing paper attached and a map (found after further careful research). 

 

The chair and the meeting agreed to discuss matters according to the three points which were raised in our Appeal. For the document submitted to the meeting, please see the attachments. Here is our summary of the results of the meeting:

 

One – A second access road for Masiphumelele

Our suggestion of using Abington Road (which runs from Kommetjie Road next to – but not through Fish Eagle Park, and which connects straight to TRA and Wetlands Informal Settlement), is seen now as the first option. It is marked as a road reserve already, it has been  used by many pedestrians for years and only about 470 m needs to be made a proper road. It does not run through any wetlands and past very few houses and businesses.

 

Two – Re-blocking Wetlands Informal Settlement

The breakthrough here was related to two factors: 1. The Informal settlement is only partly “wetlands” (less than 5 %, see official city map 2014 attached) – and 2. Four already existing drainage channels (which are difficult to maintain as it is and became one of the major health hazards) can be used to divide the area into five sections. To make them work properly again (cleaner water, less rubbish, easier access)  and to add all other needed structures and basic services  (incl. 4 x 7 m wide access roads and light masts for security) can be achieved by moving less than ca. 140 shacks (out of a few thousand).

 

Three – Needed land to settle those in overpopulated areas and to create diverse low income housing

All agreed that it is desirable to build diverse gap housing projects for different income groups (from low to middle income) and not only for Masi residents. Our request to get access to the recent official land audit has not been met yet. We confirmed our option to investigate the 148 ha city owned land in Noordhoek which was partly used as a dumping site and which we think – according to some experts – can be cleaned for human habitation.

 

Most importantly: A convergence of views was evident between the representatives of the community and government on the three urgent matters raised in the Appeal. In addition, the Province and the City committed to work on a clear plan of action.  All officials have been tasked by the Premier to investigate all related rules and regulations pertaining to the options suggested and attach a realistic timeline on when these can be realized.  These reports must be presented not later than 10 March 2014 (one month from now) when we are invited again to be part of the then ongoing process of sustainable upliftment and change in Masiphumelele, positively affecting also all neighborsin the valley.

 

We also tabled our protest about the bad experience with city officials during recent forceful moves of residents on the TRA in Masi, which had been announced many times for several weekends and finally were executed most chaotically on a Monday morning, forcing residents to stay away from work and protect their few belongings (many children could not go to school). It even allowed more illegal people to settle on the TRA. It was promised that this concern will be addressed and investigated and a report made not later than on 10 March.

 

The delegation from Masiphumelele accepted the task of being responsible partners in this process and keeping the community unified. All possible efforts by a few in the past to derail this for individual or party political motives have been strongly rejected. Andy (Dawes), Steve (Perrett) and Lutz (van Dijk) offered to communicate the next steps to the wider community in the Far South Peninsula via this report and media briefings if needed and also to be present at the follow up meeting on 10 March, until all are confident that the projects are completed the 2nd access road, the reblocking process in the Informal Settlements (close to the) Wetlands – and enough land has been secured to relax the present overpopulated situation.

 

We thank the Premier for chairing the meeting with the intent of solving problems and all participants at this morning’s meeting for their positive co-operation. Please keep making neighbours, friends and colleagues aware of what we try to achieve (also via the petition website) – we are not there yet.

We thank you,

Andy, Steve and Lutz

 

Prof Andy Dawes / Steve Perrett / Dr Lutz van Dijk

Neighbours in Clovelly

 

Briefing for Meeting on 10 February 2014 (7.15 hrs) with the Premier, the Mayor, our local Councilors and the Mayco Member and the MEC for Human Settlements prepared by the Masiphumelele Task Group “Overcoming poverty”

(the appeal has been signed so far by 80 first signatories and by more than 500 further signatories online: www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/overcomingpoverty ):

 

Ms Nontembiso Madikane/women’s group Vuka Mama, Ms Pamela Makuphula /Progressive Women, Ms Genu Noutsikelelo/Street Committee Wetlands, Pastor Patrick Diba/Baptist Church, Mr Bheki Mvovo/chair of Amakhaya ngoku housing board, Mr Bonga Mithi /Informal Settlement and Backyarders Forum, Mr Tshepo Moletsane/Informal Settlement Forum, Mr Sithembele Mtshamba/Land Task Team, Prof Andy Dawes and Dr Lutz van Dijk/authors of the appeal “Overcoming poverty”.

As witness: Mr Steve Perrett/Vice chair of the Fish Hoek Rate Payer’s Association.

 

One – Ensure access for emergency vehicles and basic services (Wetlands IS)

Quote Clr Purchase (CT 17-1-2014): “The city agrees that re-blocking has to be done… but

community buy-in is key to reblocking.”

We are here to show that the residents of the Wetlands Informal Settlement in Masi are ready for reblocking – if it is done professionally (not in the chaos after a fire) and in cooperation with the ISN (Informal Settlement Network) which has a MOU with the City of Cape Town. We understand that some residents need to move – either from the low lying parts or to make the needed space for basic services and roads. Please note that only a smaller part of the Informal Settlement is in the low lying area. The name Wetlands is, in fact, incorrect (see city map 2014, backside of this paper).

 

Two – Provide a second access road

Quote Clr Purchase (CT 17-1-2014): “… the application for a second access road had been turned down by the provincial government a few years ago over environmental concerns. The city has since reapplied to build a second access road.”

We are here to suggest that the old plan for a 2nd access road via Houmoed Road should be given up and instead propose to extend existing Abington Road (from Kommetje Road to TRA and Masi) as there are no environmental concerns, the road affects only very few neighbors and just needs to be upgraded. At present it is blocked with big rocks.

 

Three – Conduct a land and infrastructure audit to identify land for low income housing (not only for Masi)

Quote Clr Purchase about 148 ha municipal land in Noordhoek (FB Echo 21-11-2013): “But because it was used as a dumping site, it is not feasible for relocation…” [for backyarders and people from informal settlements in Masi].

We are here to ask for the so far conducted land audit to be made public and to get the opinion of independent experts. We know that in other areas former dumping sites have been cleaned professionally in order to be used for human habitation. To leave such a huge area of city land unused is unacceptable while the need for land is so urgent. On 3 September 2013, the Mayor visited Masiphumelele and asked us to form a united “Land Task Team”. She promised to come back to us. We formed such an united committee and were waiting until today.

 

Our wish is that City and Province are beginning to address the suggestions made (after careful consultation and research on our side) in regular meetings to pave the way forward. We want to be partners in this and trust that we can agree on mutual cooperation and a date for the next meeting today.

We don’t want to wait any longer. We don’t want to see any more people burning to death in Masiphumelele.

 

 

 Map of Masiphumelele and the surrounding wetlands:

http://scenicsouth.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Masiphumelele-IS-95%-not-Wetlands.pdf