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New Woodlands residents makes progress in housing discussions with minister

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MEC for Human Settlement in the Western Cape, Bonginkosi Madikizela met with residents from the New Woodlands community regarding issues over farm 694, which is located between Walter Battiss Road and the R300. The land is designated for a housing development for residents of Kosovo informal settlement and the New Woodlands community. The minister had been engaging with New Woodlands residents after fake claims that Siqalo informal settlement residents would be relocating to the area created anger amongst residents. Tensions had been running high in the area after violent clashes between Mitchells Plain and Siqalo residents in May.

Chairperson new woodlands residents association, Shahien Van Nelson says they were informed that the Department of Human Settlement acquired the land and that 70% of the houses built on that land would be allocated to Kosovo informal settlement and 30% to residents of Mitchell’s Plain.

“We were unhappy and had endless debates which eventually led to us agreeing that it would be split 50-50,” Van Nelson states.

Van Nelson says satisfying everyone was definitely not easy and the housing problem South Africa faces was highlighted.

“In SA the major problem is around land. We had rate payers unhappy about the agreement and also backyard dwellers so we had to go back and see how we could please everyone,” he adds.

It was the agreed that 810 housing units were to be built on the Erf, but this caused more problems as residents feared that there would not be enough space and houses would be crowded.
“We then went back and negotiated that 440 units be built with a health facility,” he further states.

At the meeting it was agreed that the land be used is for the housing development for residents of Kosovo informal settlement and the New Woodlands community only.

“The minister made it clear that the housing was not for Siqalo residents and for that we are thankful,” Van Nelson says.

Van Nelson says that he does not understand why people feel the need to engage in violent activities such as protest action to have their voices heard.

“We reached an agreement that benefits everyone without having to burn tyres or stone buildings and everyone is happy,” he says. VOC

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