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Petition to
The Political and Administrative Leadership of the eThekwini Municipality

Why this petition matters

Started by Andrew Akkers

The rate paying community of Greenwood Park welcome any assistance to better the lives of these informal dwellers. We empathize with them in their hardship. Over the years, we have assisted them many times with food parcels, clothing, etc. especially during fires and during the COVID lockdown.
However, after consulting widely with ratepayers in the area, it was decided to object to the proposed upgrade that the City is suggesting. We do so for the following reasons:
1. The ratepayers and formal residents were never consulted about this project or asked to provide any input.
2. The proposed upgrade is not a permanent solution to the plight of the informal dwellers. Living in such close, crammed conditions is not conducive to decent family life, especially for the raising of children.
At past ratepayer meetings with the City's Housing Dept, the formal residents of Greenwood Park were repeatedly informed that the informal settlements in Havelock and Thandanani were temporary or transitional and that the residents there would eventually be housed at the Cornubia or Mount Moriah housing developments. A check of the City’s aerial photos of the mid 80s will clearly show that the informal settlements in Ward 34 were among the very first shack settlements in the City. Thus, those informal dwellers should have been at the top of the list to receive homes at Cornubia or elsewhere. Yet, this was never the case. Why is that?
More recently, National Government finally alluded to the fact that there was never going to be sufficient budget to provide every family with a free dwelling.
The Minister of Human Settlement has suggested that in order to eliminate the backlog in providing housing for the masses, serviced plots should be provided to each family with full title for them to settle and build their own homes over time.
Some acceptable decent sized sites could be created where the settlements are at present, but land must be sought for the rest. If such land only exists at the outskirts of the City, then subsidized transport should be provided for residents to get to work and schools etc, until their new areas are developed. That way families could be brought up decently on larger sized plots with spare land to grow crops etc.
We strongly suggest that instead of spending the R125 million allocated on engineering and temporary structures for the proposed upgrade, and as an incentive to relocate, the families should each be given a building allowance once serviced plots are found for them. Or building material to the same value should be provided.
3. It is clear to any realtor that property values of suburban homes are severely affected by mushrooming informal settlements in those areas. Owners of homes closest to the settlement wishing to relocate can never attract any buyers and even the banks refuse bond applications due to high risk. All this puts an untenable strain on the ratepayers.
4.These settlements originally started with just a few shacks, primarily on state or municipal property.
However, they have kept on growing and now occupy neighbouring privately owned land. In the case of the Havelock settlement, more shacks are on private land than on the government land. How is it possible that the City is going to utilize public funds for capital projects on private or state-owned property?
In the last year or so, several new shacks have sprung up. It is known fact that there are shack landlords who put up these shacks and rent them out. It is also a known fact that the majority of these new tenants are foreign nationals.
Is the Council now going to build new upgraded dwellings for these shack lords and the foreign nationals?
5. There is huge concern among ratepayers that the planned upgrade will require more land and that the footprint of the settlements will expand even further onto private land (which will be illegal), or into D’Moss demarcated conservancy areas reserved for public open spaces. The residents of Greenwood Park will protest vigorously against any such move.
6. The rapid and uncontrolled constant expansion of these settlements no doubt puts strain on the services to our suburb. We cannot fathom how an upgrade will prevent any further illegal expansion. Recently, we have experienced numerous water and electricity outages, in some areas for days. Residents are becoming increasingly frustrated as can be seen from comments on social media chat groups.
7. Recently, there has been a serious spike in crime in our suburb. There have been many reports of street muggings for cell phones and wallets. Serial theft of water metres, copper piping, gate motors and electric cables have also increased. Even theft of clothing from washing lines has increased. Word from the informal settlements is that the some of the newcomers who rent these shacks are unsavoury characters and are involved in criminal activities.
8. The week-long July unrest and looting spree has terrified residents. They had to barricade themselves in and had to protect their families, businesses and homes from looters since the police failed in their sworn duty to protect them. For days ratepayers watched as informal dwellers brought in tons of looted stock from the nearby warehouses. These informal settlements, compounded by poverty, is the root cause of unrest. The ratepayers demand that proper homes be provided for the informal dwellers, or we will see greater unrest and the next time ratepayers’ homes could be invaded.
9. The once beautiful and peaceful suburb of Greenwood Park is buckling under crime, grime, and everyday service delivery issues. Yet its ratepayers are loyal to the Municipality., They pay their rates and utility bills diligently month after month. However, the strain on residents is showing and there’s a limit to how much they can bear. There is a growing call for rates boycotts or similar strategies.
It is for all the reasons above that we, the ratepayers and formal residents, object to the planned upgrade. The informal families must be provided with ownership properties as was promised to them. The proposed upgrade is yet again just another temporary solution and just prolongs the problem for another 20 years or so. Clearly, the status quo cannot continue indefinitely.
We, the undersigned rate payers and residents of Greenwood Park, call on the City of Durban/eThekwini Municipality to halt the proposed upgrade project and plan and implement a permanent solution to this scourge. We demand that the ratepayers are kept fully informed and consulted on the new proposal for housing for the informal residents of Greenwood Park.

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