By Jack Bloom MPL, DA Gauteng Constituency Head – Joburg East:
The Mangolongolo informal settlement in Denver in east Johannesburg faces an uncertain future as it can only be upgraded when the land ownership issue is resolved.
According to a written reply by Gauteng Human Settlements MEC Jacob Mamabolo to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature, the 413 dwellings at Mangolongolo are built illegally on land belonging to Transnet.
Mamabolo says that the City of Johannesburg “is providing services to the community, but cannot conclude upgrading and formalization processes until land ownership status is resolved.”
This settlement has been plagued by fires because shacks are spaced too closely together and there is no readily available water to fight a fire.
In June this year, about 60 shacks burnt down and 169 shacks were destroyed by fire in September.
Many of the dwellings are solid structures built in brick.
It is not a good location near a railway line, but there are few other housing options for the 1500 people who live there.
The DA has drawn up a petition asking for the formalization and upgrading of the settlement, including electrification and adequate water and sanitation.
More than 150 residents have already signed the petition which will be handed in to the Petitions Office at the Gauteng Legislature.
The best policy will be to give them ownership of this state land which will assist in upgrading efforts that will provide certainty for the families who live there and prevent further devastating fires.