From the news desk

Manenberg ‘container people’ frustrated with conditions

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Residents of the containerised village in Manenberg say they can no longer live under stifling conditions, which they have described as inhumane. Twenty-four families currently residing in the village told VOC News that they are in the centre of turf owned by notorious gangs such as the Hard Livings and Clever Kids and the lack of lighting at night attracts local criminals and drug users. The field on which the containerised village is located has become a dumping ground, infested with rodents and filled with stagnant water, posing as a health hazard to residents.

The families have been waiting for almost ten months for upgrades to their homes in Diane Court which they thought would only take up a period of six weeks. According to resident, Albert Turner, the way in which residents were taken from their homes and placed in the temporary relocation area was much like the picture of forced removals during Apartheid.

“There is no security here that are really equipped to deal with criminals. They can’t offer us much security let alone themselves. It looks like a rubbish dump. Our container homes are leaking…there is no proper ventilation in here. Why did they bring us here?” he said.

‘City must be held to account’

“The City needs to take accountability. This is their upgrade project. We have been living here in Manenberg for fifty years and until now no upgrades have been done to our homes. We are hearing that the work they are doing is not that of a good standard anyway,” Turner continued.

During VOC’s visit to the area, a 96 year old resident, known to the community as “Ouma” told of her cold winter nights in the container. Residents collectively shared their stories of hardship and their constant struggles as their days in the village continue. Power blackouts in the evening make the residents victim to vandals and drug users in search of items to pawn for their next fix.

‘Dubious tenders’

Last week, the ANC in the Western Cape said it was shocked by the “deplorable” living conditions of these residents, most of them experiencing their second winter in the containers.

“The DA administration in Cape Town and province should take full responsibility for this unmitigated disaster which started when they handed tenders worth more than R400 million to the dubious Filcon, a company that was already facing eight different liquidation applications in the High Court before the first tender was allocated to them,” said ANC provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs.

“This wanton abuse of taxpayer’s money was referred to the Public Protector more than a year ago. But, since then the city has been running rings around the Public Protector while the latter wastes valuable time and resources on other matters that is already being addressed at different levels of government.”

But Mayoral Committee member For human Settlement, Councillor Benedicta Van Minnen says contractor, Akom, is to blame for the slow upgrade to Diane Court.

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Van Minnen referred to the current situation at the containerised village as “unfortunate”. The City has now taken out an interdict against the contractor to speed up the completion of the project after it claimed extra funding from the City.

“The residents have been extremely patient because we have now run into a problem with Akom. They had an unauthorised extension of work and now are expecting the City to escalate the payments, claiming extra funding. This is completely unacceptable and out of line,” she said.

“We have taken them to court on the matter which will be argued in court on the 26th August 2015, they need to urgently complete the work or we will terminate the contract.”

Councillor Van Minnen could not provide a date by which residents could return to their homes but added that the City will be going back to the village to provide some resolution to the current situation. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)


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