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

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

Published by the Legal Resources Centre  13 January 2017

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.
ENDS

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