Maitland shack dwellers guard restitution recipients…

Members of the Ndabeni Communal Property Trust are pleading with Cape Town and the national government to relocate the families occupying their land in Maitland.

The Trust has owned the land since 2004, after a successful claim with the Land Claims Commission under the Restitution Act 1997. But the beneficiaries say they never reaped the benefits.

The story is told in papers in the Western Cape High Court filed a Beneficiary Identification Process in 2018. The Ndabeni community was forcibly evicted between 1927 and 1936 from erf 24176 Maitland and relocated to Langa. In 1942 the 54.8 hectares of land opposite Maitland Cemetery was transferred to the Council, which subdivided the land and sold various parts.

At the time the land claim was filed, there were 587 claimants. After verification by the Commission and the Land Claims Court, they were grouped into 249 households.

Court documents indicated that on October 13, 2001, after a long process, the claim of the Ndabeni community was settled and the Trust was established to serve the interests of the claimants.

But more than two decades later, the families dispossessed of their land or their descendants have “yet reaped nothing” and the “promise of restitution of the land and the benefits that flow from it” seems futile, they said in the press releases. court documents.

Women living on the land owned by the Ndabeni Communal Property Trust opposite Maitland Cemetery in Cape Town set up a vegetable garden, but it was destroyed by law enforcement, they said. (Photo: Tariro Washinyira)

Trust Trustee Harold Vumile Nakani said GroundUp that they had title deeds to the land, but could not do anything with it, partly because of the shack dwellers on the land.

“Cape Town and the government should take responsibility for relocating these people,” he said.

Nakani said the land is zoned for commercial and non-residential use.


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In 2019, GroundUp reports about 50 families living in shacks on part of the land, which they call Olympic Park. Some claim to have lived there for 20 years.

Last week we visited the site again and discovered a new group of around 40 households also living on the grounds near Gate 7 of the cemetery.

Ndabeni Nomaphelo is raising three children, including one with autism, in the one-room shack she shares with two other parents. She said law enforcement officers in the city regularly carry out raids and demolitions.

Ndabeni Nomaphelo and his family.
Ndabeni Nomaphelo (right) and his family share this one-room hut. She says people choose to stay there because the settlement is close to bustling business districts like Parow, Bellville and even downtown where they can look for work. (Photo: Tariro Washinyira)

Nomaphelo said she moved to Khayelitsha settlement eight years ago when her husband lost his job and they could no longer pay the rent.

“Life here is very difficult. The room is packed and we are crammed against the walls. There is no space for children to study. When you want toilets you have to go to the bush and when you want water you have to look everywhere,” Nomaphelo said, adding that they could not get help from the city because the terrain is private property.

Nomeni Rhewe, 65, said she and her unemployed husband had lived in the settlement for 15 years. She has no identity card and cannot receive a pension. “I was born and raised on 6th Avenue Kensington in a shack. When I’m hungry, I look for food in garbage cans. It’s hard to stay without a toilet and to fetch water from far away,” she said.

A few huts from Rhewe lives a widowed mother and her young children. The children go to school in Langa but often stay at home when their mother, Nonsikelelo Bengu, cannot pay for their transport.

Bengu, who is 53 and unemployed, moved to Khayelitsha settlement in 2017 when she could no longer pay rent.

Nomeni Rhewe at her front door.
Nomeni Rhewe has lived with her unemployed husband in the colony for 15 years. She says she grew up in the Kensington area but can’t afford to live anywhere else. (Photo: Tariro Washinyira)

“I’m under too much stress. I use the water bucket for the toilet and throw it in the bush. When I get food, I use fire to cook. I have been on the waiting list for accommodation since 1997. Every time I go to check my name, they tell me to wait,” Bhengu said.

Ward councilor Helen Jacobs acknowledged that the land belonged to the Ndabeni Trust, but said the trust had not finalized what it wanted to do with the land.

She said she only became aware of the settlement in 2015-2016 when cabins burned down. “The City does not provide services unless the landlord gives permission. Currently, we provide containers for garbage collection and the residents of the settlement carry out the cleaning as part of the expanded public works program. »

Jacobs said the Ndabeni Trust was unwilling to give approval for the provision of services. The Olympic Park group has water because it was there before the land was given to the Trust. DM

First published by GroundUp.

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