Dispute over memorandum of agreement

Klipheuwel informal settlement in Durbanville

A Klipheuwel residents’ group and the City of Cape Town are accusing each other of breaking a deal after law enforcement officers tore down land invaders’ shacks.

One person was injured and another arrested when the Anti-Land Invasion Unit demolished three shacks and fired rubber
bullets late last month.

KlipheuwelCommunity Development Forum (KCDF) claims the City reneged on an agreement to meet with it before taking such action.

But the City says the forum broke a promise to report any new shacks going up in the area.

The forum’s Nkupane Ntswane said they had tried to set up a meeting with Ward 105 councillor Ruan Beneke to discuss the new shacks, but he had cancelled on them, and they had been unable to reschedule before law enforcement had arrived unannounced.

Mr Ntswane said he did not understand why the City had only demolished three of the 20-odd shacks in Klipheuwel’s E Area.

“While the City acted within their rights to demolish the shacks, we don’t understand why they only took down the three. The City was supposed to come and speak to us and follow the right procedure,” he said.

But, Xanthea Limberg, mayoral committee member for informal settlements, water and waste services; and energy, said the KCDF had promised that no more shacks would go up in the settlement.

It should have reported any news shacks at once to the City.

“The KCDF allowed illegal structures to be erected, and did not report this as per their commitment,” said Ms Limberg.

The more shacks mushroomed, the less space there was for Eskom and the City to build electricity infrastructure in the area, she said.

Beauty Mpunga was one those whose shack was torn down.

Ms Mpunga said she had been living in a Klipheuwel shack with her sister for about three years, and she had tried to get a relocation letter from the City, but had been unable to get one in time to save her home.

“I went to the City’s offices in Cape Town and was referred back to the KCDF. When I spoke to the KCDF leadership, I was told it was not within their mandate to give/get letters and had to go back to the City,” she said.

She had not been at her home when it had been demolished and several of her possessions had been damaged in the process.

Ms Mpunga said her sister’s shack was crowded, but now she had no choice but to move back in with her.

Ms Limberg said that only three of the new shacks had been removed because the others had been occupied already.

The City had to stop land invasions quickly before they got in the way of service-delivery projects.

Ms Limberg accused the KCDF of “negotiating in bad faith”.

KCDF chairman Setjhaba Kolanchu said they had called a meeting with Mr Beneke after the incident but he had walked out of it.

“We did not come to any resolution,” he said.

But Mr Beneke said he had thought the meeting would be about service delivery, but it had not been. Instead, he had been surrounded by community members when he had tried to leave the venue. He said he had since opened a case of intimidation.

“The only way we can work together with the KCDF in future,” he said, “is if a new leadership is selected. The trust has been broken, and we need to find a way to rebuild this, but we can’t do this if people are driving their own political agenda.”