Nelson Mandela Bay municipality to blame for botched relocation

Cllr Retief Odendaal

DA Caucus leader – Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality:

Today, we witnessed the heart-breaking relocation of 58 families from ERF 2657 Parsonsvlei to ERF 1755 Malabar.  The DA condemns the manner in which the Municipality’s Human Settlements Directorate conducted the whole process from its commencement. From the onset, the democratically elected Ward 12 Councillor, Shirley Sauls, was side-lined by municipal officials, officials rather opting to act unilaterally or with the ANC PR Councillor assigned to Ward 12.

The sheriff executed the order of the High Court and we respect this decision. The DA condemns any violence associated pertaining to the relocation.

To put the matter into perspective, I would like to give a brief background how the matter unfolded:

There are approximately 54 families currently residing on ERF 2657 which is private land, belonging to Westbrook Residential Development (Pty) Ltd. Westbrook obtained an eviction order on 8 April 2014 and the said order stated that the families be relocated to ERF 1380 CHATTY. Unfortunately the NMBM dragged its feet in relocating the families to Chatty and hence we have this situation where the families are being moved to ERF 1755, which is situated in Ward 12, Malabar.

ERF 1380 in CHATTY was a fully serviced site with all negotiations between the affected families, metro officials and Ward Councillor to relocate the families to the above site. Two weeks prior to the relocation when the metro officials and Ward 12 Councillor went to inform the families that transport was arranged for the relocation, the families indicated that they will not move. The affected families were resistant to the move from that day onwards.

ERF 1755 is actually earmarked for social and affordable gap housing. No guarantees were forthcoming in ensuring the families being relocated to the site will be afforded housing in the proposed gap housing project .The NMBM has been aware of this situation since 2007. The MEC for Human Settlements in October 2014 gave an undertaking to residents in Helenvale that they would be moving to this social housing project on ERF 1755.

ERF 1755 belongs to the Eastern Cape Department of Public Works. ERF 1755 is however situated next to a Muslim prayer site in Bramlin Road, Malabar. The Muslim community has been praying at this site for over 40 years. The NMBM is infringing upon the religious rights of our Muslim community and the Malabar ratepayers. Relocating families to a piece of vacant land in the middle of nowhere, does not speak to the need for integration. Is this the ANC’s way of perpetuating the Group Areas Act.?

Concerns relating to safety, social issues such as schooling, crime and basic services have not been properly investigated or even considered. Currently the children are at school in St Albans. The chance of these children being absorbed into schools near to ERF 1755 is remote.  Further concerns are that the site is situated next to a busy arterial road, but the overarching worry is the potential conflict between existing community members and the families being relocated.  The Muslim community, the Malabar Residents Association and members of the Malabar Extension 6 informal settlement are opposed to the relocation. The consultation processes with both the Ward 12 Councillor and Malabar community at large did not take place in a way consistent with democracy. It was completely flawed!

In spite of numerous submissions to find alternative land at Kuyga, Greenbushes and St Albans fell on deaf ears. The Municipality dragged its feet in the process and now the residents of the Malabar Community must accept the decision of officials, which are appointed and not elected by the residents of Ward 12.