No space to live

Manenberg residents are stressed out by their poor living conditions. Picture: HENK KRUGER

Manenberg residents say they are tired of being treated like animals and living in congested spaces, where they are forced to sleep with their children and grandchildren in one room.

A lack of housing, land and homeownership, evictions, and rates bills were among the grievances residents raised at a meeting hosted by community activist Mario Wanza at the Manenberg library last Thursday.

Mr Wanza said Manenberg was built to accommodate 35 000 people but claims there are now more than 100 000 people living in the area.

He said over the years many people have become unemployed due to retrenchments at factories, and this adds to the long list of challenges faced by the residents.

A City of Cape Town housing manager was informed about the meeting but did not attend.

Belinda Beukes, 58, has been living in Manenberg for 40 years and has been on the housing waiting list for 35 years.

She said she approached the City’s rent office in Manenberg for help but kept being referred to different people.

“I don’t understand why they are sending me all over, I’ve even been to the Cape Town office and no one helps me. Why must I wait so long when there are people getting houses after waiting for five years only,” she said.

Ms Beukes lives with her mother and children and grandchildren in one house. She shares a bedroom with her daughter and her grandchildren.

She said she urgently needs her own home as the place is congested. She said she enjoys baking and cooking but she cannot do that because she does not have her own kitchen.

Ms Beukes said: “There is not enough place for everyone. I have faith that they will give me a house but when will I get it? I said to them, don’t give me a house when I am sick in bed. I want to enjoy my house, I want it now, not when I am old. My husband passed away last year in September and I still don’t have a house,” she said.

Shamiela Booysen, 47, also from Manenberg, has been living in the area since she and her family were evicted from their flat in Gympie Street, Woodstock, in 1992. She and her husband now live with her mother and have been on the housing waiting list for 26 years.

Ms Booysen received her title deed for a house in Manenberg in 2013 but when she went to claim her house, she found it already occupied and again she had to wait.

Eleven months ago, she sent her three younger children to live with her eldest daughter in Johannesburg because there is no space for them. “I have been all over to see different people but no one gives me an answer. It’s been hell living without my kids and I can’t bring them home because I don’t have place for them,” she said.

Mr Wanza said the City of Cape Town needs to take accountability for its citizens. He said the residents of Manenberg need to unite to fight their struggle together. “People have a right to housing, they cannot just be evicted. People have been paying rent for so long, they want to be homeowners now. They need land and a house on that land. We need to decide what we want, the government can’t decide that for us,” he said.

He said people are scared to speak up because they fear eviction. “Where will these houses be built, because Manenberg is already congested? People believe in the government, not themselves, they need to break that rule and stand up for themselves,” he said.

Mr Wanza said he and his team will be addressing various communities in Manenberg where they will note people’s challenges in the area. Thereafter they will engage with the City.

The Athlone News sent the City of Cape Town a query about housing in Manenberg on Friday June 29 but they did not respond by the time we went to print.

Questions asked included how many people from Manenberg are on the housing waiting list, whether there are plans to build more houses in the area, and we asked what Ms Booysen should do as she has a title deed but no home.