'We want houses' – Frustrated Cape Town backyarders march over backlog

Frustrated backyarders from Langa, Gugulethu and Nyanga marched to the Civic Centre in the Cape Town CBD on Friday to hand over a memorandum demanding housing.

The protesters believe that the City's Transport and Urban Development Authority's (TDA) draft operating budget, which makes provision for housing developments in Langa, has excluded certain parts of the community.

"We want houses for the community. The old Langa residents have been marginalised by the administration of the ANC and DA," community leader Bongani Nkanyuza said.

"They have focused on the south east of Langa that is the voter base. Those are the so-called hostel people. They have never accommodated the families that have been in Langa since its establishment in the late 1920s.

"There is a backlog of 16 years," he said.

The draft capital budget has set aside at least R201m to upgrade the hostels in Langa, according to the TDA website. Nineteen-million rand has been budgeted for the 2018/19 financial year, and R75m and R107m for the following two financial years, respectively.

18-year wait

While the project is meant to accommodate the beneficiaries in the City of Cape Town's Langa database, residents are of the opinion that the housing allocation process has been mismanaged.

A small crowd of approximately 100 angry residents stood on the steps of the Civic Centre demanding to see mayoral committee member for urban development Brett Herron and Mayor Patricia de Lille.

However, it was the mayoral committee member for Area Central, Siyabulela Mamkeli, who came out to accept the memorandum.

Protester Zanele Mbizela demands to see Brett Herron during a march for housing (Christina Pitt, News24)

"I have promised them that within 14 days I will respond to them. I have promised them that I will ensure that I engage with them until we find an amicable solution. We will conduct a site visit in Langa so that we can investigate these issues," he told News24.

"The issues raised by the community – I am familiar with their living conditions because I am the former mayco (mayoral committee) member for human settlements. The issues that they are raising are issues that I dealt with in the past. I do understand their plight, I do understand their frustration."