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Press Release: City of Joburg given exten­sion on pro­vi­sion of emer­gency relief to vul­ner­a­ble shack dwellers

For Imme­di­ate Release: 13 Jan­u­ary 2017

 

 

An appli­ca­tion granted on the 10 Jan­u­ary 2017 gives the City of Johan­nes­burg more time to pro­vide emer­gency relief to res­i­dents of Alexandra/Wynberg fol­low­ing the Gaut­eng Local Divi­sion High Court’s grant­ing of an urgent appli­ca­tion on 20 Decem­ber last year.

 

The Wyn­berg Res­i­dents Asso­ci­a­tion, rep­re­sented by the Legal Resources Cen­tre, brought an urgent appli­ca­tion fol­low­ing the severe rain­storms and floods in Decem­ber 2016 in the Alexandra/ Wyn­berg area.

 

The High Court ordered the City to pro­vide emer­gency assis­tance by repair­ing and ren­o­vat­ing the shacks of the res­i­dents, to an extent that such dwellings pro­vide suf­fi­cient shel­ter to with­stand the ele­ments for at least the dura­tion of the rainy sea­son.

 

The occu­piers live in shacks made of cor­ru­gated iron and gum poles. They were con­structed by the City some ten years ago as a tem­po­rary hous­ing solu­tion fol­low­ing an evic­tion order against the res­i­dents as part of the Alexan­dra Renewal Project. Thus far, they have not been relo­cated to per­ma­nent hous­ing. These liv­ing con­di­tions have also impacted the res­i­dents’ health, with many devel­op­ing health con­di­tions such as arthri­tis and pneu­mo­nia.

 

Wyn­berg is sit­u­ated a few metres from the Jukskei River. In Novem­ber 2016, news reports indi­cated that a tod­dler had drowned in the river fol­low­ing flood­ing.

 

The shacks have dete­ri­o­rated sub­stan­tially over time and fail to with­stand the rainy sea­sons. Specif­i­cally, the heavy floods of the 10 and 11 Decem­ber 2016 resulted in sub­stan­tive dam­age to the res­i­dents’ already weak­ened struc­tures. The cor­ru­gate iron sheets of roofs were removed; the sheets on the side “walls” have holes, caus­ing leak­age; the foun­da­tions of the shacks have been destroyed and res­i­dents’ pos­ses­sions have been dam­aged.

 

It is evi­dent that fur­ther antic­i­pated rain­storms could result in the res­i­dents becom­ing home­less.

 

The res­i­dents are indi­gent indi­vid­u­als who rely on gov­ern­ment social grants and low income work to sur­vive and can­not afford the mate­ri­als to repair the dam­age. In the pre­ced­ing years, the res­i­dents had approached the City regard­ing a per­ma­nent hous­ing solu­tion. These attempts were unsuc­cess­ful and an urgent appli­ca­tion was brought against the City.

 

The recent request for an exten­sion on the court order was granted on the 10 Jan­u­ary 2017 and the repairs are antic­i­pated to be com­pleted by the 23 Jan­u­ary 2017.


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