Residents of Fynbos in East London said they are fed up with living in temporary shelters while there are people who have illegally occupied RDP houses meant for them.
Many of the residents say they will be voting for the second time in the local government elections while waiting for an action to evict those who have illegally settled in their homes.
These residents made a way for the Fynbos Housing Project in Buffalo City Metro between 2014 and 2015, from the land they had occupied in order to allow the government to build them proper houses.
But those houses were invaded, vandalised and illegally occupied by another group of residents before they were completed in 2018.
Their matter is now a subject of investigation by the South Africa Human Rights Commission, following a complaint laid by the DA Member of Parliament Chantel King.
The SAHRC investigation is set to determine the human rights of at least 200 housing beneficiaries and their families, who have been living in the temporary shelters for the past seven years.
Eastern Cape Provincial Manager for SAHRC, Loyiso Mpondo confirmed that the commission is conducting a full investigation after it had conducted preliminary assessment on whether this matter falls within its jurisdiction.
Buffalo City Metro says it made several attempts to evict illegal occupants following two different court orders but some of the houses were badly damaged and vandalised by the illegal occupants. Some of them were set alight by the illegal occupants who resisted eviction.
Meanwhile residents from those temporary structures said their wooden structured floors are breaking up while there are no indications that their plight will be resolved soon.
86 year-old Leticia Kaleni said she’s losing hope of being relocated to a proper house before death. Kaleni can no longer walk properly, she is using a broomstick as a walking stick.
She said: “We had high hopes when we were moved into these temporary shelters that we will return to proper houses. We watched the building process until other people decided to forcefully occupy our houses. Now that hope is diminishing because our government is incapable of dealing with unruly people who have unlawfully taken houses that do not belong to them.”
Another resident, Vuyani Mgqebela [43 year-old] said some of the houses remained vacant after court evictions but they cannot be given to beneficiaries because the government wants to repair them first.
He said: “Some people are willing to fix their houses and move in but the problem is the government that doesn’t allow people to move in to damaged or incomplete properties.”
Another resident Zelda Hendricks said they have experienced sewage and water problems on numerous occasions.
The 46 year-old mother of four children, who is running a spaza shop in the area
across the street from those temporary shelters.
“Cleanliness is the biggest problem for me because I’m selling fast food. This is not a healthy environment for my business and customers.
We have had problems with water and at times we were forced to use sewage water because there’s nothing coming out of the taps,” said Hendricks.
BCM spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya said, the metro is engaging the affected communities to diffuse tensions and is attending to problems of the temporary shelters.
“We have been cooperative and assisted in ensuring that there’s a permanent lasting solution.
We are addressing the issue of undertaking maintenance at the temporary relocation units and we are also undertaking the provision of temporary relocation units for the homeless invaders as part of undertaking a peaceful resolution to this quagmire,” said Ngwenya.
By Johnnie Isaac