Residents protest against corruption claims

The Manenberg Action Group gathered outside a building construction site in Irvine Road to protest against claims of corruption.

Manenberg residents gathered outside a building site in Irvine Road to protest against claims of corruption and to demand houses.

The residents are all part of the newly-established Manenberg Action Group.

Standing outside the site office armed with placards, the group sang “Waar is my huis?”, to the tune of the freedom song “Senzenina?” (meaning, what have we done).

Among the crowd was an emotional Julia Abrahams, who shouted: “Hoekom moet onse mense so suffer?”

She accused the project steering committee of “robbing their own people”.

“I don’t even have a toilet where I am living and I get treated very badly. I am tired. Ek is gatvol. I’ve been on the housing waiting list for 13 years and still live in a backyard. Why must they (the project steering committee) move people to the front of the waiting list?” Ms Abrahams asked.

Ward councillor Bonita Jacobs said there had been a lot of accusations about this housing project.

“There must be a discussion and they must come with proof of these allegations so that an investigation can happen. Housing is a very emotional issue. People can’t be playing with others’ lives. We need to address the concerns raised here, but we need to do it in a proper and decent way. If there is a policy, we cannot override the policy, but we must also listen
to people’s concerns,” Ms Jacobs said.

Melanie Johnson, the chairperson of the project steering committee, said the housing allocation process has been an open and transparent one.

“We are willing to engage with anyone. We are being accused of not wanting to meet with the group, but we have not received any request for a meeting.

“The community must understand that as the project steering committee, we don’t get paid. This project is managed by the City of Cape Town. We are not here for self-enrichment. We are not aligned to any political party. As the steering committee our hands are clean and we never accepted money or bribes from anyone.

“We have been walking this road for many years – since 2005, when this project started. We do this purely for the passion we have
for our community,” Ms Johnson said.

She too, asked residents to bring proof of the allegations, so that it may be investigated.

Carol Cloete, a sub-contractor who used to be part of the project steering committee, said rumours in the area suggest that she and the community liaison officer, Yulene Waldeck, “sold houses to people”.

The two threatened to sue all those who continue to spread this rumour.

Malusi Booi, the City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for human settlements, said beneficiaries of all the City housing projects, are allocated according to its policy and the housing database. This is to ensure that
“housing opportunities are provided to qualifying applicants in a fair, transparent and equitable manner, and to prevent queue-jumping”.

He said the City’s Human Settlements Directorate takes allegations of corruption very seriously and is willing to investigate these claims.

“However, in order to do so, complainants need to report the allegations in writing to the City, providing the details, including names of individuals involved, as well as applicable evidence.

“Furthermore, as per the City’s Allocations Policy, a project steering committee is involved with determining the beneficiary radius or target area for the housing project and recommending the allocation percentage split between beneficiaries who have been on the housing database the longest, based on the agreed application cut-off date; special needs applicants; and those from the targeted areas,” Mr Booi added.