Home News Snake Park families sidelined during expansion of settlement

Snake Park families sidelined during expansion of settlement

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Some of the affected family members. Picture: Soraya Crowie

Several families in Snake Park have been left out in the cold after being “temporarily” moved from their plots to make way for development in 2016.

FIVE families in Snake Park have been left out in the cold after being “temporarily” moved from their plots to make way for development in 2016.

The families’ five shacks are among 33 that were moved from the then overcrowded Snake Park, in a move that was supposed to be temporary, but they have now been left out of the second and third phases of the development of the settlement.

They have apparently been “blocked” by fellow community members from occupying empty plots and replacing ghost shacks after, they claim, being granted permission by their ward councillor and the Sol Plaatje Municipality to do so.

The aggrieved families believe that their relocation has been blocked due to “political interference”.

The families erected five shacks at the dumping site between Snake Park and Gogga pump station after the clash with the community. They have been staying there for more than a month now without any running water or sanitation.

They said that they were supposed to be relocated to the newly developed phase 2 or 3 of the settlement.

According to the families, they were supposed to be allocated plots when Snake Park was expanded and they were even issued with an “acknowledgement letter” that they would be “prioritised” during the next phase.

They said that while they were waiting to be told when to move to phase 3, all the plots were “suddenly occupied”.

The families claim that non-beneficiaries have been allocated some of the plots that were meant for them, due to “corruption”.

They now also fear that they will have to move again from the land that they are currently occupying.

“All along, no one was available to give us updates, including Sol Plaatje Municipality, which we frequented for answers for many years,” the families said this week.

“We were only allocated four taps at the temporary site in 2018, during the election period. We were later informed that there were existing vacant plots with ghost shacks on them in phase 3 and we were promised to be moved to those plots. That was a relief to us because we felt that we would have a sense of belonging.

“We were given a map of the area, including the addresses of the plots, which we went to verify along with our ward councillor. We were also promised that the police would be available to escort us on the day of the relocation.

“We then agreed that we should move seven shacks at a time. We had agreed to start with the shacks in the low-lying areas, which were being flooded during the rains.”

They explained that things “took a wrong turn” after the first seven shacks were broken down and ready to be moved on September 8.

“The residents of phase 3 clashed with us and blocked us from moving onto the plots. There were no police to escort us.

“We felt like we were being targeted. There was no one from the municipality to intervene because they were too busy with the visit of the deputy president.

“We carried all the costs for our stuff to be transported to phase 3 and then to be brought here.

“The owners of two of the selected seven shacks decided to return to their temporary plots after the clashes with the community.

“We don’t know the way forward and have four nights sleeping outside with small children.

“It is a problem when the children have to go to school because there is no water and our neighbours have lost patience with us.”

The families also expressed their disappointment with their former Snake Park community members.

“Those are the same people whom we started Snake Park informal settlement with. They knew that the reason for us to move was a sacrifice we made to allow for roads and basic services like water and electricity for all of us.

“Now, after they received the services, they have turned their backs on us and felt the available plots were for certain ‘deserving’ people.”

The local councillor noted that the shacks were moved because Snake Park was overcrowded.

“We thus moved the small-scale farmers who were at Gogga pump station to Platfontein in order to make way for development.

“I have already submitted a proposal to the municipality for the shacks to be urgently allocated basic services like water and toilets.”

He said that it was agreed by the community, Sol Plaatje housing officials and the police that ghost shacks would be “replaced” due to safety concerns from the community.

“I further requested for urgent clarity on the ownership of the plots where the shacks are currently at and for intervention in the ghost shacks issue.”

The chairperson of the human settlement and housing committee at Sol Plaatje Municipality, Ronnie Morwe, has meanwhile distanced himself from claims that he granted approval for the shacks to be relocated to replace ghost shacks.

According to Morwe, the shacks were in the flooded area of Snake Park and the owners had decided to move without any consultation.

“The municipality does not know anything about existing ghost shacks. We heard about it, but promised the community that the municipality’s human settlement department will deal with the matter by means of a verification process,“ said Morwe.

He promised that the shack dwellers would be provided with water and toilets by Friday.

Picture: Soraya Crowie
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