PLETTENBERG BAY NEWS - Western Cape Human Settlements MEC Tertuis Simmers will be visiting Plettenberg Bay on Sunday 6 October to set the record straight after what he has described as “various misrepresentations” over housings issues in Bitou’s New Horizons and Qolweni communities.
Simmers said in a statement on Friday 4 October that he would engage the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), the leadership of the New Horizon and Qolweni communities and representatives of the Bitou Municipality.
He added that “various misrepresentations” had been made by Bitou mayor Peter Lobese to the SAHRC and broader community.
“I’m looking forward to this meeting, so that precise facts can be placed on record and to dispel all inaccuracies that are currently being promoted in the public arena. The human settlements portfolio is a concurrent function, provincially and it is vital that prolific intergovernmental relations between province and local authorities exist, so that our people can optimally benefit,” Simmers said.
This came after Simmers, in August this year, met with these communities and committed to working with them to address their housing issues.
Residents of the area have been lobbying for housing in New Horizons for more than two decades, but to no avail.
These unsuccessful efforts have since boiled over into a series of violent protests especially during June and July last year and more recently July this year. Both waves of protests brought the town to a near standstill.
The community’s biggest grievance is that over the past 15 years, government has built 3 000 RDP houses in Bitou, of which New Horizons received only 64 units. While New Horizons is not an informal settlement, the area's backyard dwellers amount to about 950.
In October last year, the municipality acquired a portion of land in Ebenezer and earmarked it for about 1 500 sites available for the construction of housing and infrastructure development, but residents have since expressed their concern over the lack of progress in this regard.
When Simmers visited the community over the past weekend however, he provided some clarity over future housing development in the area.
The MEC said his department is working on a housing project for the Ebenezer land which would include 1 194 units. The project is scheduled to start in April next year until 2024.
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