Nine People Continue to Block Progress in the Joe Slovo Housing Project
Press Statement by Bonginkosi Madikizela, Western Cape Minister of Human Settlements
There are currently nine people holding up the construction of 292 housing units in phase 3A of the Joe Slovo housing project. This has also had a knock on effect on the rest of the Phase 3 project preventing houses from being built that will benefit thousands of shack dwellers.
The Joe Slovo housing development is part of the N2 Gateway project, a joint initiative between the national government, the provincial government and the City of Cape Town. R480 million has been budgeted for the Phase 3 Project in order to build 2 639 houses.
The Joe Slovo project commenced in 2004 but has been delayed for a number of years largely due to resistance from a few community members who have refused to relocate in order to allow for the construction of housing units, which has resulted in two lengthy and costly eviction proceedings
The matter came before the Constitutional Court in 2007, which found that the eviction and relocation of residents was a reasonable measure to facilitate the housing development and neither the Constitution nor the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act (PIE) precluded the relocation sought by government.
However, subsequent to the provincial government implementing an in situ upgrade as opposed to one large scale development which would necessitate a substantial eviction, the Constitutional Court ruled in 2009 that the Joe Slovo project must provide more opportunities, so as to minimize the relocation of people, and also to ensure consultative engagement to engender community consultation and buy-in.
This resulted in more people being accommodated and high density units being planned for Joe Slovo, and a Social Compact being signed with the Project Steering Committee (PSC) in January 2011.
Despite these rulings and the fact that the vast majority of affected families have already voluntary relocated in order to allow for Phase 3A of the development to proceed, nine residents refuse to move.
This is also despite the fact that:
- They were part of the respondents in the 2007 Constitutional Court ruling;
- They have been offered adequate alternative accommodation by the provincial government;
- Notices to relocate were served on the 9 residents, which clearly requested them to vacate the site and informed them that failure to do so would lead to legal action for their eviction;
- They were also informed during one on one engagements that they had to relocate;
- Minutes from a number of public meetings also reveal that they were aware they had to relocate.
As I have already mentioned, the residents will not be rendered homeless during relocation. All of them have been offered alternative accommodation. Their goods and building materials for their structures will also be transported to the area they will be relocating to and a contractor will also provide them with assistance in re-erecting their structures.
Four of the nine residents also qualify for permanent housing and will be beneficiaries in the Joe Slovo housing project. Out of the remaining five, one of the residents housing application was turned down because they earned more than R3 500 a month, three residents recently applied for permanent housing, which is currently under consideration and one resident has not applied for a housing subsidy.
In previous discussions with these residents they stated that they would only agree to relocate if the provincial government provided them with a date when they would be provided with a house. This is ironic, when their refusal to move is one of the main reasons why the remaining phases of the Joe Slovo housing development has been delayed by up to five years.
When people refuse to voluntarily relocate in order to produce housing for people, I have no choice but to approach the Western Cape High Court for an eviction order to move these nine residents off the site so that development can proceed. This is despite the fact that the Constitutional Court has already kicked out an application by these residents for relief in this matter.
While it is the Court’s responsibility to recognise the rights of every household it is critical this must be balanced with the rights of the 500 000 people waiting for formal housing in the province.
It is crucial that the Western Cape High Court balances the needs of the thousands of people waiting for housing in the Joe Slovo project with those of nine people who refuse to budge for the common good.