Kliptown, home to the Walter Sisulu square where the historic Freedom Charter was drafted. Behind this national heritage site, however is a squatter camp that houses thousands of residents despite one of the core principles within the freedom charter reading out, “There shall be houses, security and comfort”. Residents of the Kliptown informal settlement decided to take to the streets after government has failed to attend to their grievances with regards to service delivery.
Grassroot ambassador, Thabang Nkwanyana and community leader, Sandile Mqhayi shared their own accounts of what it means to be a Kliptown resident. After multiple engagements with former MMC for housing, Dan Bovu, 550 families have been allocated houses in a block of flats nearby. The challenges that have risen from that process were that the elderly have been allocated apartments where they need to use stairs, something that they are not physically able to do and the allocation process came to a complete halt with no explanation from the department of housing.
The residents are demanding transparency from the department of housing and the new MMC for housing, Mzobanzi Ntuli promised a full report as to what is happening by Tuesday the 9th of May. “We are taking back to the streets again if the report is unsatisfactory”, says Mqhayi.
Apart from the housing allocation debacle, the community faces other challenges, such as:
· Sanitation – there is no drainage system whatsoever and streets get flooded when it rains. People use mobile toilets to relieve themselves and all of them are placed within the outer lines surrounding the area which can is a problem for people that live inland, especially at night.
· Waste collection – “every household used to receive plastic bags to be used forrubbish collection but officials started selling them and that is how that stopped”, says Nkwanyana. As it stands, there is no waste managent system in place.
· Electricity – illegal connections are in place and sometimes people die trying to connect their households to the grid. “Winter is around the corner and gas along with paraffin tend to be health hazards and candles have burnt down whole blocks of shacks so people have resorted to plan B.