3000 residents in Doornbach informal settlement celebrated the City's purchase of the private land where they have been living for the last 10 years by slaughtering 3 cows and 3 sheep on Heritage Day.
Over 10 000 residents did not have sufficient basic services such as water, toilets and electricity until the City bought the land for R9m last year in May and started providing electricity earlier this year.
ANC ward councillor Lubabalo Makeleni said the residents had contributed R5 per household to purchase the sheep and he had raised R15 000 from the surrounding business community to buy the three cattle.
"To finally have the land and in less than a year to have electricity installed is worth celebrating," said Makeleni.
The celebration started on Sunday night as over 50 men helped to slaughter the cattle and remove the skin. As resident Ziwaya Kiti armed with a knife stabbed the cattle to death women ululated with excitement at the prospect of eating the meat.
Fifty-five year old mother of six adult children Alice Sokupha has lived in the informal settlement since 1998, sharing her four-room shack with her children.
Speaking while she tended to a huge pot of cooking meat, Sokupha said because the land was privately owned the City was unable to provide services. But since the City's purchase of the land there are now more toilets and electricity has begun to be installed in the informal settlement.
Sokupha said previously residents cooked on paraffin stoves and used candles to light in their shacks and there were plenty of shack fires because of negligence. Now with the provision of electricity the shack fires were not as frequent as residents cooked on electric stoves.
"The City's purchase of land and provision of electricity is saving our lives. We were victims of shack fires but it's better now because we are using electricity. Now we are only hoping that government will build us houses to even better our lives," said Sokupha.
Celiswa Mangaliso, 36, a mother of three children aged two, five and 13 said she had been paying R300 a month for illegally connected electricity which she was not allowed to use for an electric stove and or any other electric appliance other than to light her shack. Mangaliso said she was very happy that the City had bought them the land and was installing electricity in the informal settlement. She said it was worth each resident contributing the R5 to buy the sheep to braai on heritage day to celebrate.
At the cerebrations, Community Policing Forum (CPF) chair Andilepeter Peter, who is also chairperson of the Oliver Tambo ANC branch, said the government purchase of the land as well electrification of the informal settlement was "just a drop of water in the ocean" as it would have been better if people were celebrating houses.
"We can't have a situation 18-years in democracy struggling to get land to build houses for our people," said Peter.