From the news desk

New Valhalla housing project marred by tension

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Over 700 Valhallah Park informal dwellers could soon see their dream of having their own homes, following the launch of the City of Cape Town’s Break New Ground (BNG) Housing Development in the area. Beneficiaries told VOC News they have been waiting for up to fifteen years for a home. Mayco Member for Human Settlements, Benedicta Van Minnen turned the sod at the launch of the R42 million project on Friday. However, the project has already been met with a number of challenges. According to Van Minnen, a group of individuals linked to local gangs targeted the contractor and construction site, hindering the progress of setting up a construction site.

“This project has been in the pipeline since 2013, it is a great location. However, we have encouraged the community to operate by shutting down the space for anti-social behaviour and crime,” Van Minnen explained.

“We had a problem last week with certain individuals who interfered with the contractor who is instructed to set up camp. This issue has not been resolved but we have urged the community to assist the City because it is their opportunities that are put at risk.”

Beneficiaries say they are currently living in self-made shacks in an informal settlement nearby. The living conditions of these individuals include a lack of clean water supply, electricity, sanitation and safety. Beneficiary Ronel Seconds said her now deceased husband waited patiently for this day to arrive.

“It wasn’t easy for us to live in the conditions we live today. We know now that there is light at the end of the tunnel. We have come through thick and thin to get here. We are so thankful to the council for finally come out and showing us that the houses will be built. It doesn’t matter how big the house is, as long as we have cement walls,” Seconds told VOC News.

While the housing development is schedule for completion in January 2017, a group of individuals linked to local gangs have already begun vandalising and threatening contractors setting up the construction site. Beneficiaries and residents of the area say they will do whatever it takes to ensure the area is safe during development. Beneficiary Leah Rudolph said they will set up camp and secure the construction site.

“Even if we have to become security, we can’t allow things to go on the way it has. This development will help us in so many ways. We won’t allow people who already live in houses to come here and break down our only chance of living in a home of our own,” Rudolph added.

Another concern Van Minnen expressed is the trend of unscrupulous individuals buying the council houses from beneficiaries. With the new BNG houses, national legislation ensures that the houses cannot be sold by beneficiaries for eight years.

“We have a problem across the country with poor people end up being exploited by others who offer cash even though a transfer can’t be given. We really need beneficiaries to understand the prohibition on sales for eight years in order to safeguard their opportunity,” Van Minnen continued. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)

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