Stellenbosch backyarders threaten to occupy golf course

Members of the Stellenbosch Backyard Dwellers’ Forum marched to the Stellenbosch Town Hall, demanding affordable housing.

  • Stellenbosch backyarders marched to the Stellenbosch municipality on Wednesday to hand over a housing petition with nearly 1,000 signatures.
  • The Stellenbosch Backyard Dwellers’ Forum says land promised to them for housing by the mayor has now been sold to private developers.
  • They say if the municipality does not respond within seven days they will occupy the Stellenbosch Golf Club.

Stellenbosch backyarders say that if their housing demands are not heard they will occupy the Stellenbosch Golf Club.

About 50 members of the Stellenbosch Backyard Dwellers Forum marched to the town hall on Wednesday demanding progress on housing developments they say were promised to them by the municipality.

They live in shacks in the backyards of homes in Cloetesville, paying rent of between R800 and R2 500 a month to the homeowners. The forum handed a petition to the municipality, signed by 966 people, demanding that several pieces of land be earmarked for housing for backyarders.

The forum said that in nearby Kayamandi, the municipality had acquired land and built houses on it for people who had occupied the land. But their own demands had been ignored, they said.

“Should we also start invading land illegally before we are listened to?” they said in the petition.

“Should we not receive any feedback within seven days, we will definitely disrupt/invade the golf course,” they said.

READ | City to appeal court order preventing eviction of shack dwellers living on Tembisa soccer pitch

Forum secretary PJ Plaatjies told GroundUp that the backyarders had been engaging with the municipality since 2011. According to Plaatjies, a piece of land in Cloetesville had been identified by the mayor and the backyarders had been promised houses there.

But he said the land had now been sold to private property developers.

“We know they will pay attention when we invade the golf course because that is where the rich people go,” said Plaatjies.

“Our people are suffering,” said Christine Steyn, treasurer of the forum. “We are blocked by the municipality, they are selling our land to outside people and it’s going to stop this year. We’ve been peaceful long enough.”

Steyn said that the security complexes being built around Cloetesville were unaffordable for backyarders.

Stellenbosch Municipality spokesperson Stuart Grobbelaar told GroundUp that the municipality would respond to the memorandum within seven days. He said the municipality engaged with the forum regularly.

According to Grobbelaar, the municipality had identified several pieces of land in Cloetesville and had applied for funding for feasibility studies from the Department of Human Settlements.

“Human settlements is a national and provincial competence and mandate,” he said.

“Municipalities across the country act merely as implementing agents for housing projects based on funding received from these spheres of government.

“Stellenbosch Municipality provides as many housing opportunities as possible with the limited resources that we receive.”


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