Kailene Pillay
4 minute read
8 Nov 2016

‘No low-cost houses, please’

Kailene Pillay

“We don’t want low-cost housing next door to us!”.

“We don’t want low-cost housing next door to us!”

Imbali Unit 15 residents have expressed their fears that the values of their homes would drop and crime will increase after news that more than 100 low-cost houses are to be built on vacant land nearby.

A number of residents, who are passionate about their neighbourhood’s beauty and sense of place, are calling for recreational amenities to rather be developed on the vacant land. They fear the low-cost housing will bring many problems to their beloved area, including a drop in the value of their property.

The construction of the low-cost housing, situated on Cedar Road, is expected to start in January 2017 should all the issues around it be ironed out.

The RDP project is being developed by Msunduzi Municipality and is funded by the Department of Human Settlements. Msuduzi spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said the value of the project is just over R10 million and is currently in its planning stages.

But, residents living in the area said they are against the project and want the land to be used for recreational amenities for people already living in the area.

One resident, Thabani Ntuli, said he is in the process of building a house worth more than R1,6 million and fears the value of his property would decrease if RDP houses were built close by.

Ntuli is one of many residents in Imbali Unit 15 whose property is worth more than R1 million.

“I have been living in the area for 10 years and recently decided to upgrade and extend my house. Had I known there were plans for RDP houses, I would never had extended my home,” Ntuli said.

He said the area was also very safe and should the development of low-cost housing continue, they fear the crime rate might increase.

A school principal also living in the area, who asked not to be named, said he had been living there since the 1980s.

The vacant land should be used for “something better”, he said.

“We need a hall or a swimming pool, tennis courts or library. This land has exponential growth and should be used to improve the quality of life for those already living here.”

The resident said the municipality called community meetings to discuss the development of the low-cost housing but many residents were against it.

Although there were residents against the development, the school principal said signatures were collected from people who were falsely promised the houses.

“I feel like the government took advantage of people who are not learned and promised them houses for their children,” he said.

He added that the youth were also approached for comment and signatures backing the RDP houses.

“They [youth] cannot speak for us who have lived here for so long and who own houses here.

“I am not carrying a card for any political party but I am only looking after my investments,” he said.

Reverend Prince Zondi, who also owns a house in the area, said the low-cost housing should be built in areas such as the France township as it is needed there.

The reverend said the residents in Unit 15 paid high amounts for rates and should be the decision makers in such cases.

“We even tried meeting with the mayor but that was fruitless,” he said.

The R10 million low-cost housing development in Imbali Unit 15 and 13 

will accommodate people from other areas in the city.

Both the Department of Human Settlements and Msunduzi Municipality confirmed that people from outside the area would be accommodated in Imbali since there was no other land available anywhere else.

Msunduzi spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said various people approached the presidential hotline, the Human Settlements MEC through a ministerial inquiry and KZN provincial parliament for shelter in the Msunduzi Municipality.

“Several options have been explored in order to accommodate them at other places but the available solution was to construct houses in the sites that are owned by the department and the municipality,” she said.

But since the beneficiaries of these houses did not have land available in their respective wards, “the only way” was to look at the available land in Copesville and Imbali Unit 15 and 13.

Mafumbatha acknowledged the project was experiencing challenges as communities voiced their opinions that there should be no relocation and that people should be assisted in their own wards.

Spokesperson for the department Mbulelo Baloyi said the project was at planning stage, with construction anticipated to start in January 2017 subject to all the social issues being resolved. “The department and municipality will engage the relevant stakeholders and hopefully the engagements will yield better results and the targeted vulnerable groups can have adequate shelter,” Baloyi said.

He said the RDP housing project would assist in breaking the chains of poverty and hopelessness being experienced by those who applied for housing.