KNYSNA NEWS - The KBD, or Knysna Backyard Dwellers, is a three-year old movement that first attracted attention when its members handed a petition to the municipality in 2016 wearing T-shirts sporting the slogan "Ons is gatvol, No house, No Vote".
The group, which consists mainly of Knysna-born youths who do not have houses and are backyard dwellers at their parent's homes, allege they are always left out when there is development planning in town.
Following advice allegedly given to them by former town councillor and murder accused Velile Waxa, the movement decided to erect structures where there is land available.
These efforts opposite the municipality's water purification plant near the corner of Rio and Gray streets were destroyed by the Red Ants over the Easter weekend on instruction of the municipality, and KBD members claim that on Easter Sunday 21 April the Red Ants pointed guns at them and their children.
'On waiting list for over 15 years'
Some of the group's grievances include the fact that old and disabled people who were moved from Sotana/Salt River by the apartheid government still do not have houses. Themba Bosman from the group said some of them have applied for houses and have been on the waiting list for over 15 years and yet people who have been in town for less than five years get RDP houses. Bosman says they are done waiting and are now fighting to get houses.
Knysna Municipality responded saying backyard dwellers are included in the developments in town and that strategies are being developed to accommodate the movement's and other backyard dwellers' needs.
"All Greater Knysna residents are included in the municipality's development and are afforded the opportunity to give input and participate through integrated development plan and budget public participation process."
Provide evidence, says muni
On allegations on how some of residents have applied 15 years ago and are still without houses, the municipality has asked them to provide evidence in order for them to investigate. They said approved elderly and disabled applicants receive preference.
In their response the municipality asked for evidence with regards to the allegation about previous councillors encouraging them to grab land and Red Ants pointing guns.
"Could you kindly provide evidence regarding the previous councillors. Please note that the municipality is opposed to any land invasions and will take the necessary action," it said, and asked for evidence with regards to the Red Ants using extreme measures, adding, "We cannot respond to hearsay."
The municipality also shared pointers on who can apply for a housing subsidy.
Who qualifies for housing subsidy?
You qualify if all of the following statements apply to you:
- You must have been on the municipal housing demand database for a minimum period of 10 years. (Proof of registration required.)
- Priority will be given to applicants over the age of 40 years and/or with special needs.
- You are married or living with a long-term partner, or you are single or divorced with others who rely on your income.
- You are a South African citizen or you have a permanent resident's permit.
- You are over 18 years of age or if under 18, married or divorced with others who rely on your income.
- Your monthly household income before deductions is less than R3 500.
- You or your partner have never received a subsidy from the government.
- You or your partner have never owned property.
- You and your family will live on the property bought with the subsidy.
For those who need more information, the municipality invited them to visit www.westerncape.gov.za/service/all-you-need-know-about-housing-subsidies.
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