Mayor won’t budge on squatting

After the meeting the Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis made time for the residents after the meeting.

Transport, load shedding, crime and homelessness were at the top of the agenda when the mayor met with Atlantic Seaboard residents earlier this week.

Just over 200 people filled the Sea Point civic centre on Monday June 6. Also in attendance were ward councillors and members of the mayoral committee.

Addressing the issues of poverty and homelessness, Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said: “We believe that South Africa’s society is increasingly unsustainable if current levels of poverty and unemployment persist, so everything that we do in Cape Town is filtered through the sieve of what it does for growing our economy more rapidly, and getting people out of poverty and improving their life chances and getting them into work opportunities over time.

“We know that nothing that we do here, all our hopes and dreams and visions for our city and country will not come to fruition so long as we have so many people living in really execrable conditions in our city.”

The mayoral member commitee and ward councillors listening to the Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis.

While residents raised a number of concerns, it was the issue of illegal occupation of land and buildings that received the most attention.

Reclaim The City member Sheila Madikana, who has lived in the Helen Bowden nurses’ home in Green Point since 2017, emphasised the need for basic services at this illegally occupied building.

“We are staying there without electricity for the past five years. We want full engagement with you guys (City) to come and speak to us,” she said.

“We don’t want to stay for free, we want to pay for electricity and water but we want to engage with each other. Come and listen to our pain. We are not living comfortably there but please provide us with basic services. We live there in darkness, we have 24/7 load-shedding,” said Ms Madikana.

In response, Mr Hill-Lewis said they were looking for properties which were suitable for social housing throughout the city, but added that upholding the rule of law was imperative.

“It cannot ever be possible for any government in South Africa to give its blessing to an illegal land occupation, because in a country premised on the rule of law you simply cannot take what is not yours,” he said.

“And I understand that it is tough for the people living in those conditions but just imagine the signal it would send, if we said to the world if you take a piece of property that isn’t yours we will (give) you things that Sheila has asked for. That would collapse the rule of law in South Africa.”

Mr Hill-Lewis added the waiting list for housing was a “crisis”, exacerbated by the national government’s budget for public housing which was “shrinking every single year”.

Residents attended a meeting with Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis earlier this week.