Residents of Mshayazafe hostel in Thokoza, Ekurhuleni are in desperate need of dignified housing but are forced to live in squalor. More than thirty families in one block of the hostel are sharing one toilet and unable to regularly wash their hands. This is wholly unacceptable under any circumstances, but especially so considering the need for regular handwashing during the Covid-19 pandemic.
While more than one million Gauteng residents wait for their housing allocation by government, the Department of Human Settlements is consistently failing to meet its quarterly target of upgrading informal settlements, releasing land parcels, converting hostels into family units, completing unfinished housing projects and providing interim service support to informal settlements.
The living conditions that our residents at Mshayazafe hostel and Empilisweni informal settlements are exposed to are appalling, unsanitary and not suitable for human habitation.
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The failure of meeting its quarterly targets was revealed in the fourth quarterly report of the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements for the 2020/21 financial year. The department failed to achieve any of the targets set, resulting in no work done during the quarter.
The failed targets included the handover of 500 land release parcels to beneficiaries, the target to procure 7375 land release parcel opportunities on the serviced sites from the private sector, but only 218 land release parcels were procured.
The releasing of land parcels plays a critical role in giving our residents an opportunity to build their own houses and not solely rely on government to provide them with dignified housing. This saves the department money in terms of building top structures and reduces the number of those on the housing waiting list.
The department also failed to achieve its target to complete 239 top structures in regard to incomplete/abandoned/blocked housing projects. Furthermore, they did not achieve its planned target to formalise 37 townships. Completing these unfinished housing projects would have relieved pressure from both the department and residents by providing housing to people and further reducing the housing waiting list.
They also failed to convert three hostel projects into family units and to complete 30 family units from hostels, which are under construction. Considering the appalling living conditions that our hostel residents, across the province, are exposed to on a daily basis, the department should be prioritising delivering dignified family units to these residents.
Lastly, the department failed to meet its target of providing interim services support to 63 informal settlements and to provide phase two upgrading to two informal settlements.
The department’s failure to deliver services to the residents of informal settlements is wholly unacceptable, especially during this economically and socially challenging period as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Failure to provide water, sanitation and ablution services possibly exacerbated the health challenges of communities living in informal settlements, and is a smear on the constitutional rights of South African citizens.
We will not hesitate in holding Gauteng MEC for Human Settlements, Lebogang Maile accountable for his department’s failure to realise the rights of these citizens, and the utter indignity they experience on a daily basis.
We call on MEC Maile to ensure that his department prioritise delivering of dignified housing to our people, as they cannot continue living in inhumane conditions. We will also demand MEC Maile to provide a detailed plan on the turnaround strategy with regards to delivering housing in the new financial year. Where the DA governs in Tshwane, we have already handed over serviced stands to our residents to ensure that they have dignified housing.
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