Municipality is neglecting us, say protesting Durban transit camp residents

Protesting residents of the Isipingo transit camp, south of Durban, have accused the eThekwini municipality of neglecting them.

The residents, who were moved to the camp more than 10 years ago, blockaded Isipingo Old Main Road with burning tyres and rubble on Thursday.

They want the eThekwini municipality to relocate them to the Cornubia housing project near Umhlanga.

The protesters claimed that they had been moved from informal settlements near King Goodwill Zwelithini Stadium in Umlazi before the 2010 FIFA World Cup to make way for a public viewing area.

Resident Sphumelele Makhathini told News24 on Thursday that the municipality had promised to move them to better houses after a period of six months - from the time they started occupying the camp.

"But some people have been here for ten years and the municipality is neglecting us now. We have decided to stage protests since last week because we are concerned about the rainy season that's approaching. During heavy rains in October last year, our furniture was damaged and we lost our clothes and other valuables," she said.

Makhathini claimed that, when eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede visited them after the rains, she had promised to relocate 250 people to better houses this year.

"But only nine out of the 250 have been relocated to proper houses," she said.

Another resident, Kwanda Khumalo, said life was not good at the camp.

"Our children are exposed to sicknesses here, because the area we are living in is always muddy due to the nearby river. Some residents have developed TB due to the conditions here. The public toilets are always dirty and blocked and the roofs leak when it rains," he said.

Officials accused of selling RDP houses

The residents accused municipal officials of selling the RDP houses they were promised in Cornubia's Phase 2A to people who did not qualify for government houses.

School children and people who work at the small town of Isipingo had to walk for about 2km to get to their destination because vehicles could not travel past the camp.

The municipality's deputy head of communications, Mandla Nsele, disputed the residents' claims.

"The allocation of houses for Cornubia Phase 2A has not begun. The phase is still in planning stages and the allocation guidelines will be developed over the next few months," he said.

Nsele said nearly 300 families from the camp had already benefitted from houses in Phase 1, "one of the largest groups of beneficiaries from a single area". 

He said anyone with information regarding the selling of subsidised houses should report it to City Integrity and Investigations Unit on 0800 202020 or email ombuds@durban.gov.za to lay a formal complaint so that action can be taken.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane said the situation was now calm at the camp.

The protest began at about 03:35, he said.

"A case of public violence was opened at Isipingo police station for investigation," he said.