“The Democratic Alliances’s environmental affairs spokesman, John Cupido, said the metro had not been proactive in monitoring the population growth of the Gonubie informal settlement.”
AROUND 1 200 shacks in Mzamomhle informal settlement have been built on environmentally sensitive sand dunes which form a buffer between the ocean and the sprawling Gonubie township.
Residents of F-section in Mzamomhle have chopped down trees and coastal bush on the sand dunes to make way for shacks as an ever increasing number of people move into the township.
Buffalo City Metro said it was aware of the issue and was working to address the problem, which contravened the city’s environmental by-laws and had raised the concerns of environmentalists.
“The matter is currently in the hands of the town planning department,” said BCM communications boss Keith Ngesi.
Ngesi said feasibility studies were also under way to determine if some parts of the area were suitable for human settlement.
This would determine if RDP houses could be built in the area to eradicate the shack problem.
Ward 28 councillor Crosby Cakata, whose shack is also built illegally on a sand dune, said the influx of residents to the area had been a result of a 2007 land claim.
“Our shacks were moved in 2007 when a man came and claimed the land we had built on,” Cakata said. “We had no choice but to move.”
Cakata said the influx of people to Mzamomhle was mostly from the Transkei as they moved to the city in search of jobs. He said they had no choice but to build their shacks on the dunes.
“However, we have since stopped the mushrooming of shacks in this place,” Cakata said, adding that due to the damage being caused to the environment the shacks needed to be moved back to the “flatter” areas of the township.
But for shackdweller Linda Baba, 23, the damage being caused to the environment is the least of her concerns.
The unemployed woman said she was just battling to survive and was not concerned about the environmental issue of where her shack was built.
She said residents of the overcrowded F-section battled daily for access to water, sanitation and electricity.
“There is no other place for us to build,” she said. “The environmental issue is the least of our problems – we need jobs and houses.”
She said they relied on the coastal bush for firewood, while it was also a “toilet” and “dumping” ground.
“We depend on the bush for for firewood and we use it as a toilet,” said Baba, who is from Centane. She said the only working toilet in the area was a 15-minute walk away.
Another resident, Malibongwe Mdovu, said people were contravening environmental regulations in pursuit of a better life in the city.
Mdovu, a construction worker from Elliotdale, said the influx of people into the city would only be stopped once government speeded up the housing allocation process and created more jobs in rural areas.
The Democratic Alliances’s environmental affairs spokesman, John Cupido, said the metro had not been proactive in monitoring the population growth of the Gonubie informal settlement.
“That community has been growing extensively on sensitive land for quite some time now,” Cupido said, adding that he welcomed news of the metro taking steps to rectify the situation. — firstname.lastname@example.org