Members of the Stellenbosch Backyard Dwellers’ Forum marched to Stellenbosch Town Hall, demanding affordable housing.
- Stellenbosch backyard workers marched to the municipality of Stellenbosch on Wednesday to deliver a housing petition with nearly 1,000 signatures.
- The Stellenbosch Backyard Dwellers’ Forum says the land the mayor promised them for housing has now been sold to private developers.
- They say that if the municipality does not respond within seven days, they will occupy the Stellenbosch Golf Club.
Residents of Stellenbosch say that if their housing demands are not met, they will occupy the Stellenbosch Golf Club.
Around 50 members of the Stellenbosch Backyard Dwellers Forum marched to town hall on Wednesday to demand progress on property developments they say have been promised to them by the municipality.
They live in shacks in the backyards of Cloetesville homes, paying rent of between R800 and R2,500 a month to landlords. The forum submitted a petition to the municipality, signed by 966 people, asking that several plots be reserved for the housing of young gardeners.
The forum said that in the nearby town of Kayamandi, the municipality had acquired land and built houses there for the people who had occupied the land. But their own demands were ignored, they said.
“Should we also start illegally invading lands before we are listened to?” they said in the petition.
“If we don’t hear back within seven days, we will definitely disrupt/invade the golf course,” they said.
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Forum Secretary PJ Plaatjies told GroundUp that the gardeners had engaged with the municipality since 2011. According to Plaatjies, a piece of land in Cloetesville had been identified by the mayor and the gardeners had been promised homes there.
But he added that the land had now been sold to private property developers.
“We know they’ll be careful when we invade the golf course because that’s where the rich go,” Plaatjies said.
“Our people are suffering,” said Christine Steyn, the forum’s treasurer. “We are blocked by the municipality, they are selling our land to outsiders and it will stop this year. We’ve been quiet long enough.”
Steyn said the security complexes being built around Cloetesville were unaffordable for gardeners.
Stellenbosch Municipality spokesman Stuart Grobbelaar told GroundUp the municipality would respond to the memorandum within seven days. He said the municipality regularly participates in the forum.
According to Grobbelaar, the municipality had identified several lots in Cloetesville and requested funding for feasibility studies from the Department of Human Settlements.
“Human settlements are a national and provincial jurisdiction and mandate,” he said.
“Municipalities across the country simply act as implementing agents for housing projects based on funding received from these spheres of government.
“The Municipality of Stellenbosch provides as many housing options as possible with the limited resources we receive.”