Government Consolidating Resources To Fast-Track Recovery and Sustainable Development For Masiphumelele and Taiwan Informal Settlements

The Minister of Human Settlements, Ms. Lindiwe Sisulu and her cabinet colleague Minister of Social Development, Ms. Lindiwe Zulu met with the Western Cape Provincial Department of Human Settlements and the City of Cape Town to receive progress on the work done to assist the households affected by the recent fires in the Masiphumelele and Taiwan Informal Settlements.

The areas were the sites of the heart –breaking scenes when fire ravaged hundreds of informal homes in Western Cape late December 2020 and early January 2021. All spheres of Government have been working around the clock, and supported by various NGOs and the private sector, to provide short, medium and long term solutions to assist the households in the settlements to reclaim dignity as well as a measure of normalcy to their lives.

The Ministers, along with the MEC for Human Settlements in the Province, Mr. Tertius Simmers as well as the Mayoral Committee Member responsible for Human Settlements, Clr. Malusi Booi have on various occasions visited the respective communities. They also consulted their representatives in December and January respectively, and made an undertaking to assist with effort and resources to provide short term temporary accommodation as well as medium to long term permanent accommodation solutions to housing development in the areas. To date Government has built one hundred and thirty (130) of the six hundred and fifty-six (656) temporary units in Masiphumelele, and is moving with additional speed to complete the balance.

‘The City of Cape Town is building about forty-five (45) units per day and we are looking at completing this task within the next few weeks. It is important to also note that these are temporary and we are working with the Department of Social Development, Provincial Government, and City of Cape Town to put in place permanent solutions so that we do not encounter problems of these recurring fires,” said Sisulu.
The Minister of Social Development, has expressed the need for “improved Municipal, Provincial and National coordination to ensure that such tragedies are eliminated by ensuring improved alignment of resources and efforts with communities, for sustainable development”.

Various land parcels have been identified and earmarked as areas where permanent housing will be built in the next several months. Government also aims to improve the density of housing typologies in the area to maximise available land. All State Agencies including SASSA, the HDA and even SANPARKS have been engaged with to help promote coordinated and sustainable development.
While there have been positive milestones achieved over the past few weeks, Minister Sisulu warned against the illegal occupation of land, particularly land that has already been earmarked for housing development.

‘We have noted with great concern the phenomenon of ‘shack-farming’ where opportunism and narrow interest takes precedent once we have identified land. We are working with all law enforcement agencies to prevent and curb such behaviour, as such behaviour hampers and keeps us on the back foot in the delivery of houses all over the country” said Sisulu.

Minister Zulu said, “While our immediate priority is to coordinate and provide humanitarian relief services by providing basic needs of the most vulnerable and return the situation to normalcy, especially in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, all of us agree that we have to find a lasting solution to prevent and mitigate severe fire disasters of this nature that disrupt our people’s lives".

In the interim in both Masiphumelele and Taiwan, temporary services such as water and sanitation have been re-instated, making it easier for communities to access basic services essential in the current climate of the COVID-19 pandemic when such facilities are most needed.
‘The NGO sector has been a reliable and dependable partner to Government and communities during these trying times. The coordination in the provision of humanitarian assistance provided by the Department of Social Development, SASSA and NGO’s and CBO’s have been commendable.”

Issued by the Department of Human Settlements and Department of Social Development
For media queries please contact the Departmental Spokesperson Mr McIntosh Polela on 079 563 1625 or Ms Sharlene Naiker on 082 673 5849.

Press Release Date: 
Monday, January 18, 2021