The housing drama in the Western Cape has heated up with Good Party secretary-general Brett Herron accusing the provincial government of lying about inner city housing developments in Cape Town.
According to Herron, he received a parliamentary reply from Human Settlements MEC Tertuis Simmers, who said that no state properties had been transferred to his department.
In March 2019, then-Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela announced during his budget speech that over 10 000 housing opportunities would be built within the inner city – this included areas such as the Cape Town CBD, Oranjezicht, Bo-Kaap and Tamboerskloof.
Herron questioned how far the province had progressed with this in a parliamentary question submitted in December.
In response to Herron’s question, Simmers said: “My department has not received transfer of land in Bo-Kaap, Oranjezicht, Tamboerskloof nor in the CBD from any state department. There have not been any properties transferred to my department.”
Herron said this indicated Madikizela lied to the provincial legislature.
“The development of affordable inner-city housing is of fundamental importance to the creation of integrated and sustainable post-apartheid cities – and achieving spatial justice – and that it is disgraceful that no such developments have taken place in Cape Town since democracy dawned. Madikizela should be sanctioned by Premier Alan Winde, who claims to lead a government of integrity, for misleading parliament and the people of the Western Cape,” Herron said.
According to statements back in 2019 from the province, there were 600 000 people on its housing database; 365 000 were in the City and there were indications this number could be growing each year.
Winde’s spokesperson, Bianca Capazorio, said Madikizela told the provincial legislature that land had been secured – the Department of Transport and Public Works made parcels of Western Cape government-owned land available to the Department of Human Settlements and granted them power of attorney over it.
“In the parliamentary question posed by Herron, he specifically asked if any land had been transferred between departments. The ownership of land cannot be transferred between departments, and is usually only transferred by the custodian department, directly to a beneficiary on completion and sale,” she said.
“MEC Simmers indicated in his response, that no land had been transferred, which is correct as explained above. Herron should know this difference, having previously served as a mayoral committee member,” she said.
Meanwhile, the City of Cape Town was forging ahead with eviction plans of Reclaim the City members who have been occupying the old Woodstock Hospital.
According to the City, there had been a constant breach of the City’s by-laws and other crime at the property, which had necessitated an increased law enforcement presence in addition to the unsustainable R400 000 security cost each month.
“It is hoped that people will move from the property voluntarily because development of social housing at Woodstock Hospital is not possible unless all illegal occupants vacate the site. If needs be, the City will pursue eviction proceedings subject to lockdown regulations,” said Greg Wagner, spokesperson for Mayor Dan Plato.
“The matter is urgent as the City is able to proceed with social housing building plan submissions within a short timeframe due to favourable zoning and rights on the property subject to any heritage requirements.”
Wagner added: “The City is currently driving over 2 000 affordable housing opportunities already in the construction phase in and near urban centres across the metro, besides the estimated 700 units planned for Woodstock Hospital.”