Media Alert: Planned Relocation of Five Households in Joe Slovo
Tomorrow, the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements will be enforcing a court order for the relocation of five informal dwellings in Joe Slovo, Langa, that are currently blocking a major housing development intended to benefit thousands of shack dwellers.
The Human Settlements department, together with partners including the Housing Development Agency (HDA), plans to build 2 639 houses in the Joe Slovo Phase 3 Project and has budgeted R480- million for this. While 588 units have already been built, the remaining 2 051 cannot start to be built until these five structures move to another space within the same project area.
Despite having agreed to do move, the five families have now reneged on their commitment, despite the fact that 90 other households, who were also living on the construction site, have already voluntarily relocated to new spaces within the project areas.
The five households are refusing to move even though they signed a court order on 16 April 2013 agreeing to do so. This order stipulated that they would relocate to vacant sites within their environs, that they would be assisted to move, would not incur any costs and would also be provided with the same basic services they currently enjoy.
Their refusal to move - despite multiple attempts by the Housing Development Agency (HDA) to engage with them over the last year and signing a court order - means that the department of Human Settlements has been unable to proceed with the construction of 2 051 houses, which will benefit thousands of families who earn less than R3 500 per month. This delay also means that the department faces the risk of having to pay the contractor appointed to build the houses because of the losses the business has incurred due to the stoppages.
This is why the department has had no option but to apply for the relocation order so that the housing project can continue, and with the support of SAPS, will be enforcing this order.
It must be stressed that no one will be rendered homeless during tomorrow’s relocation. The five households will be assisted to move. A parallel process has also been conducted, which evaluated their eligibility for housing subsidies. All five have already qualified for state assisted housing.
There have been countless delays when it comes to the Joe Slovo project, which was planned as part of the N2 Gateway Upgrading project as far back as 2004. The slow progress has largely been due to resistance of some community members (see timeline below).
In 2009, the Constitutional Court ruled that relocations must proceed, yet that the provincial government also needed to take steps to minimize the relocation of people during the Joe Slovo upgrading project and to ensure that there was consultative engagement with the community.
The provincial government has taken this judgment into account when identifying that only 96 households needed to move to a nearby area and receive the necessary support to do so.
We cannot tolerate citizens flouting a court order, not only because it sets a very dangerous precedent, but also because it places a 2 000-unit housing project in jeopardy.
The Western Cape Department of Human Settlements is committed to providing quality housing opportunities to all citizens in the province. However, this type of conflict is not limited to the Joe Slovo housing project. A number of housing projects have been delayed due to contestation within the community. This has resulted in the provincial government spending large sums of money to ensure security. At Boys Town, in Crossroads, R9.2 million has already been spent on hiring extra security to protect contractors who have been intimidated and threatened by community members and has seriously undermined the delivery of housing opportunities. This R9.2 million could have built around 92 houses.
While the rights of every household needs to be recognised these must be balanced with the rights of the 500 000 people waiting for formal housing in the province. It is unacceptable that five households are preventing the construction of thousands of houses in the Joe Slovo area. This impasse must now end. We call on community members to support this relocation so that our government can start building houses in the area again.
Timeline: Joe Slovo Project History
Attempts to relocate the occupants of the BM6 site, Joe Slovo
Occupation of Joe Slovo settlement began.
Mid 1990’s to 2002
Services in the form of tap water, toilets, refuse removal, roads, drainage and electricity provided by the City of Cape Town
N2 Gateway Upgrade conceptualized, to deliver 23 000 opportunities to 120 000 people. Joe Slovo Settlement one of the areas prioritized for upgrade.
10 June 2009
Constitutional Court Ruling. The community had challenged the attempts of the government agencies to relocate them so that construction could continue. The Constitutional Court ruled that the Joe Slovo project must provide more opportunities, so as to minimize the relocation of people, and also to ensure consultative engagement o engender community consultation and buy-in. As a result, high density units were planned for Joe Slovo, and a Social Compact was signed with the Project Steering Committee (PSC) in January 2011. This has resulted in participatory and inclusive community engagement since January 2011, and through the Project Steering Committee (PSC).
89 of 96 households on the Phase 3 Site had relocated. In the following months, one more household voluntarily relocates.
July 2012 – October 2012
Multiple attempts by the Housing Development Agency (HDA) to engage, contact and relocate the 6 affected households. These were unsuccessful for various reasons
22/23 February 2013
Notices to relocate were delivered to the five households. 4 households refused to sign the notices, and 2 households were not at home.
13 April 2013
One household out of the six relocated voluntarily.
16 April 2013
Three agreed to move by no later than 25 April 2013 and the remaining ones by no later than 7 May 2013.
29 May 2013
Department will enforce the relocation of the 5 households.