23 August 2017

South Africa: From Shack to Silver Shovel - Nyanga Residents Excited About New Housing Project

At the age of 53, Matthew Lacky can finally start dreaming of the day he can move his family out of their shack, as the first sod was turned on Tuesday for a housing development in Nyanga, Cape Town.

"The first thing I will do when I move in is I will offer a prayer of thanks to God," he said through the cold drizzle that usually seeps into his shack in winter.

His family line carries the generational pain of forced removal from Cathcart, in the Eastern Cape. Lacky had resigned himself to spending the rest of his life within the four corrugated iron walls that rattle when the Cape Town wind blows.

But the ceremonial silver shovel with a red bow around its handle, which was dug into the ground near him means his wait for a house is almost over.

After the first sod is turned on Tuesday, contractors will start moving in. By the end of August, the thick weeds and broken tiles dumped at the fringes of the land he is standing on will have been cleared.

Construction will begin on the first 30 of the 235 two-bedroomed houses to be built on the site, in KTC3, over the next year.

The vacant plot already has roads laid out, sewer, electricity and water lines dug in. A protective wall of shacks guards two sides of the perimeter from chancers hoping to settle on the erfs that have already been allocated.

Nyanga, about 20km east of Cape Town, may be known as the crime capital of South Africa, but the housing beneficiaries are determined not to let anybody take away their hard-won patch of land. They are staying put in their shacks surrounding the land until they are ready to move in.

In 14 months, 235 houses are expected to be built on this veld in KTC3, Nyanga In Cape Town (Jenni Evans, News24)

The people who qualify for the houses earn less than R3500 a month and have met other criteria, such as being on the housing data base for an extended period of time.

NY - Native Yard

First in line for the houses will be the elderly. At least three houses will be customised for the disabled, with ramps and wider door frames. Lacky says this means he will have to wait until close to the end of the anticipated 14-month building timeline before he and his wife Zoleka Mgadlela can cross the threshold with their three children.

But as chairperson of the local steering committee for the project, he is happy to make the sacrifice, he says.

Nyanga was initially established as a separate suburb for black people. It grew rapidly, without much town planning, as a refuge for people forcibly removed, or a starting point for people moving to Cape Town from the Eastern Cape. Many of the streets are still known locally by their offensive NY - Native Yard - number, although they are being renamed.

About 526 000 families need houses in the Western Cape, the province's human settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela said in his budget vote speech to the legislature in March.

ANC councillor for the area, Khaya Yozi, is pleased that the ground has finally been broken on the project.

"But it was supposed to have been built last November already," he notes.

Obstacles

His ward, Ward 39, includes areas such as Hlazo village, KTC and Lusaka - a mix of brick houses, shacks and backyarders that are often overlooked.

Construction will begin on the first 30 of the 235 two-bedroomed houses to be built on the site, in KTC3, over the next year. (Jenni Evans, News24)

He lists problems with building plans, getting the beneficiaries all to agree to the building contractor, and thrashing out the beneficiary list itself, as obstacles to the development.

He points at recently-constructed, tightly-packed houses in the new suburb of Better Life at the edge of one perimeter of the vacant lot. There they wanted to make sure the residents had enough space between houses, and that there were no fly-by-night contractors, as in another project in the area where tiling and roofing was not completed.

The project is being handled through the "Enhanced People's Housing Process", which gives the final occupants of the houses some say over the finishes and lets them select the builders. They have a say in making sure the building staff live in the area. The city manages the administration and site monitoring.

The beneficiaries put their housing subsidy of R120 000 into the kitty towards the construction. People who meet a long list of criteria get this amount once-off. They can use this to buy their own house or, as in this case, put it all into one project.

Councillor Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport and housing, encourages residents to keep up the nagging if building seems to slack off.

"The big celebration will be when we hand over the keys," he said.

As the silver spade slices ceremoniously into the soil, there is a moment of sadness.

Steering committee member Sandile Mvuka did not live to see the first sod turned. He died on Sunday. Yozi says consultations will take place to see whether his family still qualifies to move in.

And as a parting shot before everybody rushes out of the rain, Yozi points at the locals and the contractor and issues a warning about being drawn into corruption.

"Let's not be misled by contractors who give money so that they can do shady business."

Source: News24

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