/ 22 February 2008

Cape Town earmarks land for Delft homeless

The City of Cape Town has begun providing water and toilets for evicted occupants of homes in Delft, and has earmarked a site for them to move to, mayoral committee member Dan Plato said on Friday.

Many of them have been living and sleeping in the open since the evictions on Monday.

The move came as state-owned housing developer Thubelisha confirmed that it intends suing Democratic Alliance (DA) ward councillor Frank Martin for R20-million, the cost of repairing damage to the homes. Martin allegedly instigated the illegal occupation.

The provincial government said it might join Thubelisha in the lawsuit, which could also target the DA itself.

Plato, responsible for housing on the mayoral committee, said the city on Friday morning placed 40 chemical toilets on the road reserve where many of the more than a thousand people were squatting, with another 50 toilets to follow on Friday evening.

Water standpipes are also being installed, and skips are being arranged for solid waste removal.

”These services will help to relieve the immediate plight of those living in the open while the city prepares an alternative site with basic services to accommodate them.”

A piece of land in the Delft area has been identified for this purpose, and planning and services are being fast-tracked.

People will probably be moved to the new site within three or four weeks, and the city will supply them with emergency building kits.

”We expect this temporary arrangement to remain in place for approximately two years,” Plato said.

Councillor Martin has been criminally charged with inciting the occupation of the homes, most of them meant for people being moved to make way for the N2 Gateway housing project elsewhere in the city.

Director of Thubelisha Xhanti Sigcawu said on Friday afternoon that the company had decided to sue Martin for about R20-million.

The R20-million is an estimate of the damage the illegal occupants had caused to the houses, as Thubelisha personnel had not been able to get into them while they were occupied.

Once this inventory has been completed, the amount of the claim and the court papers will be finalised.

”We are going to sue him,” Sigcawu said.

Western Cape Premier Ebrahim Rasool told journalists earlier in the day that preliminary advice from the province’s legal affairs division is that the province is entitled to join the Thubelisha claim because the Delft houses are on its land and Thubelisha is its agent.

His cabinet will decide next week whether it will in fact do so and whether to extend the claim to target the DA as well.

He said the DA had either instructed Martin to lead the invasion, or allowed him to do so by not intervening to stop him.

”We think that both Frank Martin and the DA must be held responsible for at least R20-million damages that were caused in Delft,” he said. — Sapa