Though there was much negativity surrounding the Smutsville housing riots of last month, one positive result is that the greater Sedgefield community has unified in common determination to address the issue.
Sedgefield residents from all walks of life have been meeting in attempts to plan a way forward for the community, particularly in relation to the delivery of land for housing in Smutsville by local, provincial and national government.
Whilst the riots of last month were certainly the catalyst that brought this humanitarian problem to the fore, non-delivery of housing in Smutsville is definitely not a new issue. Indeed, as members of the ‘Lank Gewag’ group will attest, the protest action only erupted when decades of sitting patiently on official waiting lists produced no results.
Since the dark day that was 15 June, when Smutsville became a war zone in battle with riot police, and surrounding suburbs faced the terrifying sight of burning tyres rolling down the dune, there has followed a determined effort to understand all facets of the land and housing problem, and various discussion groups have been formed to engage with affected community members.
Whilst there has been much exchanging of ideas as all the differing angles of this problem are identified, the common agreement has been that government needs to act sooner rather than later, and that the greater Sedgefield community should do everything in its power to ensure this happens and that the municipality puts top priority on the process.
It is made obvious by comments on social media and various WhatsApp groups that the topic is still a very sensitive one, but for the most part, the view that the village – including Smutsville /Sizamile – is ONE SEDGEFIELD, has become the mantra that is pulling everyone together.
Meanwhile, following the site visit of Human Settlements Provincial Minister Bonginkosi Madikizela and meetings with Knysna Municipality, the Lank Gewag Committee representing the Smutsville Community have been getting mixed messages as to whether or not certain Municipal land in that area could be occupied. They say the Minister had given them the go-ahead, but the municipal officials had overturned this decision.
When they asked the minister for clarity he despatched the WC Chief Director of Human Settlements Phila Mayisela to meet with the committee in situ. After visiting the area and spending time with the Lank Gewag members, Mayisela eventually asked that she be given until 23 July to facilitate a solution. They have agreed to her request and await her positive response.
The ONE SEDGEFIELD group has meanwhile begun its campaign to ensure the community’s concerns are recognised and responded to as a matter of urgency by the Municipality and Provincial Government.
NB: A public meeting with Democratic Alliance Western Cape MEC Alan Winde, Political Head of Knysna Constituency, is to be held at 18h00 for 18h30 at Sedgefield Town Hall on Wednesday 11 July (the date of this publication).