South Africa: Families living along the Cape Town railway line will be relocated

The Western Cape High Court has ordered that families living on the Langa railway line be evicted and relocated.

The resettled residents must be guaranteed basic services.

The housing association is to set up emergency shelters.

The move must be done by November 26th.

Huts on the route prevent Metrorail from operating the Central Line beyond Langa.

Families who live on the railway line in Langa are to be relocated to two properties in Eerste River and Stellenbosch, where the Housing Development Agency (DHA) plans to build around 2,550 emergency apartments “to clear and allow the railway line”. ready for operation “.

The informal settlement prevents Metrorail from reopening the Central Line beyond Langa.

This emerges from an eviction request from the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA). The Western Cape Supreme Court ordered the relocation and housing of the families in the informal settlement of Siyahlala on July 30th.

The incumbent judge Alma de Wet ordered the families to move by November 26th. She said that they can visit the new country until then, at least four weeks before the move. Anyone who did not want to settle on the new land would have to leave the PRASA land in any case and could be forcibly expelled. The South African police would assist the sheriff with the relocation.

She ordered that the new location must offer constitutionally compliant basic services and that the apartments must comply with the standard work instructions of the Housing Development Agency (HDA).

The resettlement process is structured in such a way that the children can continue to go to school, said Richter de Wet. Families would move after the school year ended and parents would have time to enroll their children in new schools.

“For the school year February to December 2022, regulations were considered for the transport of 112 school-age children of the illegitimate occupiers if parents of the 112 school-age children do not attend their children in the schools in the area of ​​the relocated property,” says the order.

PRASA board chairman Leonard Ramatlakane said criminals stole cables to take advantage of the lockdown when Covid-19 hit the country. In the meantime, the tracks at Langa station have been illegally occupied, he said.

The Siyahlala settlement was established on PRASA land in 2016 and then expanded towards the train station.

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Ramatlakane said PRASA started speaking to the occupiers in January and February to urge them to vacate the country. “They wanted a guarantee that land would be made available, which we as PRASA couldn’t do. We ended up in the Cape Town High Court.”

Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) spokeswoman Zara Nicholson told GroundUp that the department has identified land and is conducting a feasibility study and assessment. Subject to approval by the Treasury Department, the land would be transferred to the HDA.

A task team has been set up that includes PRASA, the Western Cape HDA, DPWI, the province and the relevant municipalities to manage the process, she said.

Community leader Nomzomo Gatuya said they are ready to move when land is provided with basic services such as water, electricity and toilets. She said there was no clear communication about the relocation process, but people indicated that they would need help with transportation.

One of the hut residents, Nomawabo Yisaka, said she was happy that land had been found. “I’m glad I can go. This place wasn’t safe for our children, who are likely to be raped, run over by trains and electrocuted from illegal connections. My husband and I don’t work. We need help with transportation and durable building materials. ” She said.

Avela Melato, who goes to work in Epping, said she and a few others would oppose moving because they wanted to stay close to work and children’s schools.

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