Threats made to burn down new houses
THE CONSTRUCTION of new houses for the 47 people living in an overcrowded house in Colville has hit a snag. Members of the Greenpoint community living in the area where they were supposed to be relocated, are up in arms as they feel that they have been overlooked.
AfriBiz Investments, in partnership with the Collen Mashawana Foundation, decided to come to the family’s rescue after reading of their plight in the media.
President Cyril Ramaphosa visited the family at their home in Colville last month, and was shocked by their living conditions.
AfriBiz Investments, at the end of last month, indicated that it was ready to immediately start with construction so that the houses could be handed over to the Seekoei, Jacobs and Kok families by Easter.
The new homes will be built to accommodate five siblings, their 12 children, 18 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
However, some residents in Greenpoint are aggrieved that they have been on the waiting list for several years for basic services, land and houses, while the family will be receiving preference, above them.
It is believed that threats were made to burn down or destroy any house that is constructed in the area while some community members vowed to take to the streets to express their dissatisfaction.
PR councillor Shaine Griqua said he had met with the mayor in order to identify other possible sites for the family.
“It will not be safe for the family to move to Greenpoint due to threats that were made by members of the community.
“At the same time the family, as a matter of urgency, needs decent homes as two women are pregnant and are expecting their babies soon.”
He added that there were 47 people living together in the Colville household and not 42 as previously reported.
“There appears to be a general shortage of available land for residential occupation.”
Ward councillor Ockie Fourie stated that he had not been consulted regarding the relocation of the family to Greenpoint.
“There should have been some form of public participation. The community staged a protest and set tyres alight earlier this week because of the lack of services. They are desperate for communal taps and mobile toilets, because they have been living for years without these basic amenities.
“They are also unhappy about a woman who was raped in the area and as a result she fell pregnant.”
He indicated that while land had been surveyed for a project to construct 1 150 houses in Greenpoint, only 300 houses had been completed.
“People are in dire need of houses and are crying out for land.”
Chairperson of human settlements at the Sol Plaatje Municipality, Ronnie Morwe, said a meeting was held on Wednesday to identify an alternative site for the construction of the six houses.
“We met with the councillor and mayor and identified Greenpoint and Beaconsfield as possible sites. Family members indicated that they do not mind where they are relocated to, as long as they are provided with shelter. They did request to be moved as a unit and they do not want to be separated because they provide each other with “moral and emotional support”.
“None of them are employed and they share their food and whatever they have amongst each other.”
Morwe advised residents not to be “territorial”.
“We need to build an inclusive society and people need to have the freedom to choose where they want to live. We condemn any resistance to the relocation of the family to Greenpoint because it is municipal land.”
Morwe stated that the land in Beaconsfield had been tagged and surveyed and was also serviced with running water and electricity points.
“The family will have to apply for indigent status and we will assess whether they qualify. At the last count, there were 42 people living in the house.”