Housing extortion in City of Cape Town: stakeholder engagement
Human Settlements (WCPP)
27 January 2023
Chairperson: Ms M Maseko (DA)
The Committee was briefed by the City of Cape Town, the Western Cape Departments of Community Safety and Human Settlements, and the South African Police Service (SAPS) on the challenges they faced in dealing with gangsterism and extortion which was hindering efforts to provide housing to Western Cape communities.
The Committee was mostly concerned about the growing issue of extortion, and questioned the role players on how they were going to address and combat this issue. Many other crimes stemmed from extortion, such as kidnappings and murders, so it was crucial that the issue of extortion was addressed seriously. Members were critical of the delays in completing the housing projects, as many people had been on the waiting lists for more than 15 years. They also raised their concerns about the money being put into strengthening safety and security on construction sites -- funds that could have been redirected into the housing projects and their infrastructure.
Members from the community also had an opportunity to relate their experiences to the Committee, many of which resembled the issues identified in the meeting.
The Chairperson said that extortion was a big problem in the Western Cape, and it had been decided to have the Committee meeting to look for solutions and to see how the different spheres of government and the departments could all work together to combat the issues. She was happy to see the community members at the meeting. She emphasised the important role that the community members played in finding solutions to the problems that they faced within their communities.
City of Cape Town on housing extortion
Mr Geordin Hill-Lewis, Mayor of Cape Town, Mr Malusi Booi, Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Human Settlements, and Mr Robbie Roberts, Director for Policing and Enforcement, took the Committee through the presentation. This included developments halted in the City in the last five years due to extortion, the number of beneficiaries who had been affected by these cases in the last five years, the number of cases reported by the City contractors to the South African Police Service (SAPS) and whether SAPS had assisted, and he support the City received from the National Department of Community Safety.
Mayor's introductory remarks
Mr Hill-Lewis made some introductory remarks. It was important to be aware of the increasingly worrisome issue not only in the City of Cape Town, but also anywhere else in the country. Extortionists were hindering any construction that was happening in the City. They were experiencing many issues regarding delivering services to the City and communities around the metro. Contractors’ safety and security were at risk, and projects were being delayed or cancelled. The issue of extortion was going to have to be stopped. Otherwise, the City of Cape Town ran the risk of becoming a "mafia state" in which no work was going to be able to happen in the public and private sectors. Cape Town was committed to protecting the rule of law and delivering services to poor communities, and they constantly tried to combat the threats that arose. A big majority of their budget was being allocated to safety and security, where it could have been redirected to bettering service delivery. The incidents had to be reported for the cases to be investigated, but people were not reporting to the police because their lives were being threatened. It was extremely expensive to secure the construction sites, and they hoped to work with the SAPS to work on the cases and make breakthroughs, because they had good crime and intelligence capabilities to bring the people to justice. Other crimes, like kidnapping, stemmed from extortion. They needed a special force team to deal with the matters of extortion and the crimes that stemmed from it.
Mr Booi pointed out that extortion had affected some projects in the past five years. Some extortioners were camouflaged as members who had been elected by their communities or were beneficiaries. In one instance, some individuals unlawfully occupied houses that had been built. One person had left the building, but they were still dealing with the other eight individuals who had not evacuated. They had experienced another issue in Durbanville of a forum that had camouflaged itself as a project steering committee (PSC) and they had had to go for litigation. They managed to get all the beneficiaries to occupy the units addressed to them. In Valhalla, seven contractors had been appointed to kick-start the project, and some of the contractors had withdrawn from it due to safety reasons. Some of the construction was still ongoing, but not at the pace they would have liked.
He went through the rehabilitation of some of the projects. Some business forums had projected themselves as sub-contractors, and 67 units were affected in Region 2, Phase 4. They had had some stoppages at the project, but they were working on resuming it.
He briefed the Committee on other projects, why they were stalled, and the different challenges they were facing. They were experiencing a variety of problems, but were working to strengthen the safety and security on the construction sites. The SAPS played a crucial part in the whole process.
(See attached document for details)
Department of Community Safety on strategies to deal with extortion
Mr Reagen Allen, Western Cape Minister of Police Oversight and Community Safety, and Ms Yashina Pillay, Head of Department, Department of Community Safety, took the Committee through the presentation dealing with the Department’s strategies in dealing with extortion matters from alleged gang groups in the Western Cape, and the support the City received from the National Department of Community Safety.
Minister Allen guided the Committee through the role of the Department of Police Oversight and Community Safety, and said that while SAPS led the strategy in dealing with alleged extortion in housing projects within the province, the Minister and his Department of Safety were the lead on the Western Cape safety plan. It was made up of two pillars -- law enforcement and crime prevention. The Department was the lead on the law enforcement pillar, and together with the SAPS, it chaired the Anti-Gang Priority Committee. A provincial response to the National Anti-Gang strategy was being strongly implemented. The Department had developed this with key safety stakeholders in the province. The Anti-gang Priority Committee reported monthly to the Provincial Joint Operations and Intelligence Structure (ProvJoints).
The Department funded the Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP) programme, which saw the deployment of over 1 000 LEAP officers to 13 priority areas within the Cape Town metropole. They were in the process of implementing a Firearms Harms Reduction Strategy which they had developed with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
On safety and security issues, the Department chaired the Western Cape Government Safety and Security Managers Forum, where transversal safety and security issues were discussed. The Department provided safety and security advisory support to the Department of Human Settlements (DHS) as follows:
- Safety and security risk assessments (e.g. erfs in respect of land invasion);
- Provision of security advice;
- Investigation of breaches; and
- Development of guiding documents about safety and security (e.g. WCG security policy framework).
There was a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the DHS as far as it related to safety and security.
Ms Pillay explained the support they provided to the DHS, which was a member of the Extortion Priority Committee that had been established by the SAPS. The Committee included the NPA, the City of Cape Town, and other Western Cape government departments. Matters brought to the attention of the DHS were referred to the Priority Committee and its team. The Department had played a role in facilitating engagements with SAPS Crime Intelligence and the construction industry to enable matters to be reported to, and investigated by, the SAPS.
She said the Department briefed the Consular Corps jointly with the SAPS, and had developed an information leaflet to circulate to their nationals who resided and visited the Western Cape. The Department had also assisted the Department of Economic Development and Tourism with drafting a communique and guidelines circulated to businesses in the province. It facilitated the compilation of threat risk assessments by the State Security Agency (SSA) when required. The Department’s oversight mandate included monitoring cases by the SAPS and bringing any inefficiencies identified to the attention of the Committee. On relevant platforms, it would always encourage victims to report any incident to the SAPS so that matters could be fully investigated, prosecuted and the perpetrators convicted, as this would act as a deterrent to other perpetrators
Going forward, the Minister and the Department would hold regular meetings with the NPA, the SAPS, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) and the Department of Correctional Services, where good working relations between the different departments would be fostered for effective service delivery in the Western Cape.
(See attached document for details).
DHS on housing developments halted due to extortion
Mr Benjamin Nkosi, Acting Chief Director: Implementation, Western Cape DHS, took the Committee through the presentation, which dealt with the number of beneficiaries that had been affected by extortion cases in the last five years, the number of cases reported by the City's contractors to the SAPS, and whether theSAPS had assisted, and the support the City had received from the National Department of Community Safety
He guided the Committee through the housing developments halted due to extortion and the number of beneficiaries who had been affected due to extortion. Several extortion cases were reported to the SAPS, and he provided the Committee with more details about the incidents and what the City and the SAPS were doing to protect the construction sites and the safety of the contractors and the workers.
Cape Town had experienced similar problems, and had upgraded its security specifications to include additional security measures. They were piloting this on one of their projects. The Department had similarly upgraded its security specifications on the airport infills project to include a tactical response team, etc. However, challenges were still being experienced.
The DHS was participating, while mandates and representation were being firmed up, in the Anti-Gang Strategy Committee as a sub-committee of the Provjoints; the War Rooms meetings with the City; and the Land Invasion Task Team at the Department of Local Government.
(See attached document for details)
SAPS on the housing extortion cases reported
Brigadier Makhaya Mkabile, Provincial Head: Organised Crime, SAPS, Western Cape, took the Committee through the presentation, which dealt with the housing extortion cases reported in the last five years, the number of extortion cases in Cape town for the past financial year, the number of cases which ended up in prosecution, and the number of people who had been arrested for extortion in the housing sector in the Western Cape.
He said there had been an increase in confirmed and unconfirmed cases of extortion in the housing and construction sector. Two task force teams had been deployed in the Western Cape -- one in the City of Cape Town and one in the Winelands District. The task teams were multi-disciplinary and worked in conjunction with crime and intelligence, and other ad-hoc role-players.
Various other crimes stemmed from extortion, such as murders, robberies, public violence, house break-ins and theft, intimidation, damage to property, assault and kidnappings. The SAPS has developed many strategies to mitigate the issues.
He took the Committee through the number of reported cases over the past years. The reporting of cases was very low because people were fearful for their lives and intimidated by people from their communities. SAPS had to work to increase the number of reported cases. They would also be able to re-open several cases if new information arose.
(See attached document for details)
The Chairperson opened the floor for discussion and questions from the Committee.
Mr I Sileku (DA) wanted clarity on some of the presentations concerning action. He referred to the last presentation by SAPS. He agreed with what the Minister of Infrastructure had said about the devolution of powers within SAPS, and the under-capacitation of SAPS within the Western Cape. The presentation did not mention extortion as one of the key crimes that SAPS had to consider. He asked what the interaction was between the different departments that had presented to the Committee today, and how often they met to deal with matters of the cases that had been reported. Various cases had been left undetected and many cases had not been reported, and he wondered what the contributing factors were for people not coming forward and reporting cases. Maybe it was because of the lack of convictions. The reported cases and conviction rate in South Africa did not add up. It pointed to the fact that people had lost faith in the country’s law enforcement agencies and the judiciary.
He asked what mechanisms they planned to put in place to ensure that the issue of gangsterism did not infiltrate the rural areas. When gangsters were removed from the city centre, for example, they just moved to rural areas, such as Grabouw. What would the City do about extortion to ensure these issues were being curbed within the relevant regions?
He said that he was a beneficiary of a housing opportunity. Projects got approved and funding got allocated and the beneficiaries were then identified. Why did people then still not fight to secure their housing opportunities when criminal elements took their projects and opportunities away?
There were many linkages in terms of procurement policies. Mr Sileku asserted that some of the local businesses were contributing to the extortions. What were some of the engagements with these businesses in terms of handling these issues and in understanding why they would engage in criminal activities?
He said the project steering committees (PSCs) were a problem, particularly in rural areas. The cause had to be addressed. The correct procedures were not followed when PSC members were selected. People with credibility had to be appointed, to ensure that the needs of the communities were being met, instead of using their opportunities for their own gain. What was the Department going to do to address this matter?
City of Cape Town
Mr Booi said they were exploring the issue of beneficiaries protecting their projects. What they were doing now was to have a list of beneficiaries upfront, to ensure that people acted on their opportunities. People who were doing the extortions were usually camouflaged as business forums of the PSCs. These people were usually the children of the very same beneficiaries and people from the same communities. This made it difficult, because people from the same communities were threatening people. The people were too afraid to go to the police to report a crime because they knew something would happen to them.
The procurement policy of 30% local involvement had been implemented to uplift skills within the particular communities, but it had to be reviewed, as people were now using this policy to enforce extortions. For example, some people acted as sub-contractors without having the correct documents and then claimed funds. He said they could have no arrangements with sub-contractors, as the main contractors hired them. They could assist the main contractors in getting sub-contracts, and could thereby have some element of control over the sub-contractors, to ensure that the projects were being safeguarded.
The City developed and approved an allocation policy in March 2022. In the policy, they dealt with a variety of issues. Part of the problem was that some individuals had houses or received housing opportunities and wanted to be a part of the PSC. If one was not a beneficiary, one could not be a part of the PSC. He had indicated this to the Executive Director, and they had to ensure that they had the list up front to ensure that they were aware of who the beneficiaries were.
Minister Allen, on the selection of the PSC members, said that when a project was initiated in whichever municipality, a social compact was formed. This document outlined everyone who was a part of the project. This was considered a binding contract between himself, the municipality and the host beneficiaries, and the host ward, which was why some of the counsellors were also a part of the meetings. What he had noticed over the past couple of years, was that the PSCs were being politicised. He reiterated that to be a PSC member, one had to be from the beneficiary pool of the host municipality for the specific project, and the community must elect one. Councillors had been called to play an active role in the whole process, together with the Department and the Ministry. In doing so, community members would elect PSC members they knew and trusted to act in the interest of the project and the community, and to put politics to the side. Extortion played a bigger role in the destabilisation of the PSCs when there was a leadership change.
Minister Allen said that the Priority on Extortions Committee met bi-weekly, and they had ad-hoc engagements. This was coupled with their bi-weekly meetings with the Police Commissioner. These were all ongoing.
On the question of why people were not coming forward, he said there were two possible scenarios. Firstly, trust in the criminal justice system was at its all-time lowest, and this was indicated by the Afrobarometer. That meant that certain residents and business owners were reluctant to open the cases. Secondly, there was the fear of intimidation and retaliation if cases were opened. In certain cases, people had to flee when they reported extortion.
On the question of what plans were in place for the rural areas, he said that the Department served the entire Western Cape and that he did not want the rural, outlying areas to feel neglected. During the first quarter of the 2022/23 financial year, they experienced a decrease of 8% in homicides in the priority areas, where Leap officers had been deployed. On the other hand, they had seen a 28% increase in homicides in the five priority areas outside of the City of Cape Town. They were researching the data to ensure that they deployed LEAP officers into the areas identified as the province's priority areas. They aimed to strengthen the presence of SAPS in the Western Cape, and were consistently calling for devolution.
Major General Preston Voskuil, Western Cape Deputy Provincial Commissioner, SAPS, gave feedback to the Committee on the operational side of the questions that impacted the City of Cape Town. He confirmed that two coordinating committees or task teams were working with the SAPS, and they were operating more as an advisory body. The first coordinating task team involved an open meeting, where about 100 to 150 committee members were represented. This was more statistically driven, where they had discussions around the statistics and did not go into too much detail regarding intelligence, syndicates, individuals or groupings. He pointed out that that was a particular challenge with that task team. The City of Cape Town proposed that a high-level task team had to exist outside of police entities -- the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the HAWKS -- while the executive director of the City of Cape Town or certain police chiefs were a part of the particular task team to delve deeply into matters with intelligence, information, operations, investigation and communication – the five pillars of the police on extortion.
On the support given to the rural areas, he said that they were currently in consultation with all the different district municipalities on what kind of support they could render as the City of Cape Town in respect of extortion and land invasion cases. The MOU between the different district municipalities was currently taking place. They were all serving on the Provincial Priority Committee on Land Invasion, where all the role-players were also a part of the discussions. They were currently driving towards a nerve centre or an operational coordinating centre, where they were going to monitor all the instances as a part of a collective process.
Maj Gen Voskuil said that this was a complex threat that required a multi-disciplinary approach. He allowed the detectives an opportunity to provide the Committee with more detail about the high-level committee, how they operated, and who the role players were.
The Chairperson asked if there was any intelligence investment they were looking at implementing in the Western Cape to categorise and identify where criminal behaviour was concentrated or originated. She pointed out that they had ‘shack-farming’ in the City, where people who already had houses rented their shacks to people who needed accommodation. People in the communities did not want to divulge the names of the people renting their shacks, but if the intelligence was there, they would be able to identify the people. This all came back to the extent to which the SAPS in the Western Cape was investing in intelligence to ensure that they were taking back the power that was in government. How were they being proactive in eradicating the issues as they happened?
An official responded that they had bi-weekly meetings with the Priority Committee. The role-players were multi-disciplinary, including Business Against Crime, the NPA and the City of Cape Town, and they would then look into cases that had been reported. They would also provide progress reports on the matters.
He pointed out that they also had operational task teams. The one in the City of Cape Town had 19 multi-disciplinary members, led by a commissioned officer, and a second group in the Winelands had 14 members and it was also led by a commissioned officer. These task teams had bi-monthly meetings where they discussed all the monthly challenges and the cases that were reported. They had a joint tactical operation, and whenever threats showed up, they got together to discuss possible deployments in the identified areas.
Brigadier Leon Hanana, Western Cape Provincial Head: Serious and Violent Crime, SAPS, said that they were dealing with various crimes that emanated from extortion, such as murders and robberies. They had monthly Provincial Organised Crime Secretariat (POCS) meetings, and different stakeholders were a part of the meetings. During these meetings, they would provide a breakdown of the statistics of the various types of crimes. The NPA, the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and investigators were all present in these meetings. They would start with enquiries and then go to major investigations. After this, they introduced the projects and identified syndicates and groups, and worked out timeframes to curb and investigate the crimes in a sophisticated and organised manner. During the sessions, they noticed that crime intelligence did play a big role, and provided them with detailed and valuable information. They delved deeply into a new modus-operandi; they looked into newly reported cases; discussed prevention strategies and investigation approaches; disruption operations; and looked into gangs and their involvement in extortion. They went deeply into the investigation of the cases that were complex in nature. He could not go into much detail, but they had systems in place that dealt with organised crime cases.
Mr C Fry (DA) had questions about the presentation by the City of Cape Town, specifically on Region 4 (in the presentation). He pointed out that contractors had been incompetent in that specific case, and asked how that was possible, and what had been done to ensure that the contractor never worked for the City again.
On the Sheffield Road housing project in Philippi, he said engagements with the forums had averted the incidents. However, these business forums were known to be the culprits in extortion. What had they learnt from those engagements moving forward? They needed to remove the people responsible for extortion cases from the projects.
On the SAPS’s presentation, he was concerned about the lack of trust in SAPS and the law-enforcement systems and did not see the plan. The presentation ended with the challenges, and the plan was not stated clearly. He asked what the plan was to combat extortion and to combat the root of the problem.
Mr G Brinkhuis (Al Jama-ah) said that the feeling on the ground was that government had no control over the housing extortion, and that the gangers and extorters were in control. The MMC had mentioned that they had taken control of the situation in Manenberg with the Peoples Housing Process (PHP) project. He asked what they had done to address the issue, and if there was a clear plan on what they were going to do to deal with extortion in the future.
The Chairperson answered on behalf of the City of Cape Town and said that the DHS had spent R1.5 million on safety. She asked the City how much they spent per month, as more clarity on their expenditure could highlight the severity of the problem. She asked SAPS to provide the same information.
City of Cape Town
Mr Booi said that the contractors they had utilised had been sourced from the provincial DHS, and they had good ratings. On paper, it seemed as though the people were competent, but in reality, they were not. From the City of Cape Town’s side, they were going to ensure that they approached industry professionals to avoid future issues.
On the Philippi Sheffield Road housing project, he said that they could not negotiate with ‘thugs,’ and Minister Simmers had also alluded to that. In some projects, they were unable to engage in any negotiations and the contractors had to pull out. It was an issue that they had been unable to tap into. They were focusing on getting more assistance. As a Department, they could not utilise grants for security. They had to ask the Executive Mayor for that, and get approval for their adjustment budget. For example, they had got over R170 million to address the issue of ‘shack farming,’ but that was still not enough. The DHS received more assistance from its sister departments, such as the Department of Safety and Security.
They had not budged on the Manenberg project, and that was how they had been able to complete the project. The LEAP programme assisted them immensely and received good cooperation from the contractor and the community. They were proud of the fact that they were able to finish the project.
Mr Roberts said that on the budget alone, they were spending a lot of overtime on extra deployment to deal with the various threats that the City identified, specifically gangsterism in Manenberg, Bonnievale, Steenberg and the Delft area. Just as they got everything under control and gained stability, they then had to move over to Mitchells Plain. Gangsterism was hindering all the processes they had in place from moving forward.
There were a lot of shootings in Manenberg, where the gangsters were identified, and there was an integrated approach with SAPS. The MMC was part of the whole integrated approach and the deployment in that area was still in place.
The Chairperson asked if he had any exact figures with him on the total expenditure or their budget.
Mr Roberts said he would make the exact figures on their expenditure available to the Committee as soon as he received them.
Mayor Hill-Lewis said he had some figures with him, which were quite alarming. The City of Cape Town spent R987 million a year on security, and not all of this money was allocated toward construction sites, although a very significant portion of it was. As the MMC had mentioned, just yesterday, they allocated R15 million to the current construction sites that were paused because of security concerns. This all came at the cost of additional houses and services that could have been delivered to people. He would rather not spend the money on security but on sewerage, water improvements and housing.
He asked the Chairperson if he could also address some of the other issues.
Mr Sileku said that they were going to have to have some difficult conversations about the reservation system and whether it should continue. It was the start of the slippery slope to extortion in communities. When 30% of every contract was reserved for local businesses or business forums, the question arose as to why it could not be 35% or 40% or higher, which led to extortion conversations. They had to rethink the contracts.
He pointed out that someone had made a point about the escalation clauses. Sometimes contractors benefited from security delays because they were then able to claim from their escalation clauses. It was not impossible that contractors minded the delays, or were even behind them so that they were able to claim from the escalation clauses. As far as he was concerned, no contractors were able to claim from any escalation clauses unless they registered a criminal case of extortion and intimidation. He pointed out on the slides that many contractors claimed from their extortion clauses, but never registered any criminal cases.
Mr Tertius Simmers, Western Cape Minister of Infastructure, also spoke on the issue of contractors having to go into hiding in other countries, and he said that that was the case with officials as well. At the moment, contractors who were in the City were under security. He was impressed with what the SAPS had been doing regarding safety. However, they had to see some high-profile arrests and prosecutions being made. Resources were the first step, but they were not going to stop gangsterism if the gangsters were not put into prison and brought to justice.
The Chairperson said that Mr Fry had asked about the plan.
Brigadier Mkabile said that they had a plan where teams were conducting day-to-day disruptive operations, and that they had weekly meetings. The disruptive operations were guided by their crime intelligence partners, helping them deploy the day-to-day operations. They knew where extortion was happening in some areas, and they were deploying their resources in those areas.
On the undercover investigations, they had specific projects directed at mitigating the threats. Once they noticed a threat was stubborn, they would revert to using their COVID methodology. The projects would be identified, and it would take some time for the threats to be solved, as it involved a long-term investigation. They had made some progress on some of the cases, and were working with the City of Cape Town and other partners.
The Chairperson asked what had happened on the issue of the contractors they were venting.
Minister Simmers said that all the contractors on their database had to confirm that they were tax-compliant and had a certain grading, but beyond all this information, there was not much else. Since 2019, they have been improving their processes and ensuring that they were able to get much more information on the contractors. They were red-flagging contractors to inform other municipalities of those that were not compliant, as the contractors jumped between provinces. He applauded the City of Cape Town for having its own panel to ensure these issues did not occur.
The Chairperson allowed the Committee to continue with their questions.
Mr S August (GOOD) said 21 600 beneficiaries over the last four years had not benefited from the projects due to extortion. He commended the City of Cape Town and all the relevant departments for taking this matter seriously -- having task teams, and having relevant departments involved. However, he still questioned what the plan was.
He would like to see the Mayor’s contribution to the plan, where he said that the contractors should register with the SAPS. Should 30% of the contacts still go to local labour, looking into smaller contractors, having to increase their status in terms of construction? They must also look into how the community would benefit from the projects, and how people would be notified of what exactly was going on in their communities.
He raised the issue of the ongoing court cases. He said that the syndicates were still roaming, and asked what the success rates of these cases were.
City of Cape Town
Mayor Hill-Lewis said that the highway patrol and the cameras that were put into the cars were one of the best ways that they were able to catch the people. If a vehicle was involved in extortion or murder and the registration number was uploaded to SAPS’s database, it could be identified. This database was integrated with the City of Cape Town highway patrol and the vehicle license plate recognition cameras. When these vehicles drove through the City, they would then be able to recognise the perpetrators' vehicles and they would be able to bring them to justice. They had had some success and were working with the SAPS to clean the database and get rid of old stolen vehicles. He was hopeful that it held a lot of potential for solving crime in the City.
On the question of devolution, Minister Simmers said that the Western Cape was under-resourced in terms of the SAPS, and that that was no secret -- it had been like this for more than a decade. They had to place their resources in the areas that needed them the most and where they were going to be utilised more effectively. They had a targeted approach programme in place that showed that placing resources in more targeted areas was more successful. From a human settlements perspective, their priority was to deal with invasions and extortion on the sites. If the police in the areas were understaffed, no one was going to go out. That was why he supported the devolution of policing in terms of the human settlements’ perspective.
The Chairperson asked Minister Allen to make his point clear.
Ministtter Allen said that he made his point clear, in that they wanted to strengthen the hand of the SAPS by calling for a devolution of powers.
The Chairperson asked if there were any other questions from the Committee.
Mr Marran was inaudible, and the Chairperson said that he could send his questions and she could then read them out loud.
The Chairperson allowed members from the community to raise their questions to the Committee.
Ms Lavina Fortune, a member of the public ,said that she had a few questions for the Minister of SAPS and the Department of Human Settlements. She was a security officer for one of the sites in Manenberg – the Schools of Skills -- and she was present when everything happened. The police had been very slow in their response to the incident. She had been on site and when the gangsters entered it, and she had phoned the police repeatedly, but they had managed to arrive only after 50 minutes. She said that her life was in danger and the police had failed to aid her.
She had come across a police van loading crates into the van, and had gone to the station commander and said that the police were driving around and loading crates into vans. This was not allowed and was not part of their job. She said they were not doing their job and that she would go to the media if this happened again.
She raised the issue of housing to the Committee as well. She said many houses were rented out or owned by illegal immigrants. Housing being built by the projects was given to relatives of people in the City Council or the Reconstruction and Development Project (RDP) Council. She called on the ministers to investigate this issue, which was disappointing.
Ms Delia Matale, a member of the public, raised the issue of rental housing. She had gone to the housing office to ask for permission to stay with the people she was living with. After five years of living there, she received an eviction letter. Her name had been on the waiting list for a house. At this moment, she would not have a place to live, she could not afford a house and she and her children were living on the streets now. She had complained about the illegal activities that had been going on in the house and had reported the events, but nothing had happened.
The Chairperson asked her to provide them with a written copy of her situation.
Ms Elizabeth Smit, a member of the public, said that she had a problem with people who received tenancies without being on the database.
Why did the Housing Department have different policies every year? There was no standard policy. She had lived with her parents all her life, and when she went to the office, they had questioned why her brother had the tenancy, because the tenancy was supposed to be hers. When she returned, they told her that the tenancy belonged to her older sister, even if she was not on the database.
The Chairperson said that the issues raised by the communities were individual problems, and it was going to be difficult for the Department to answer the questions. She suggested that someone from the City of Cape Town and the Department take down all the details of the issues and respond to the individual problems.
Ms Geraldine Pieterse, a member of the public, said that the houses being built were not going to the people on the database. The people elected to receive houses were not; instead, these houses were being occupied by illegal tenants. Gangsterism was growing because people were being crammed into small spaces. People were serving the community only for their own self-interest. People had to pay R5 000 to be prioritised on the housing list. She asked what the Department and the City of Cape Town were going to do about this matter.
Mr Booi indicated that they were in the process of dealing with these issues, as they were dealing with similar ones daily, and they would give them a proper response in due time.
Mayor Hill-Lewis thanked the Chairperson and the members of the community for their input. He asked that they must share the detail of the council official who had been accused of giving accommodation to his family. They would then investigate the matter and ensure it was dealt with properly. Honest conversations had to be had with the people of South Africa. The true and harsh reality was that the government was never going to be able to build enough free houses for everyone. The demand was far too high, and their budget was too low to meet the demand. The housing delivery prioritisation was already for disabled people, people over the age of 65, and people on the waiting list for over 20 years. The policy was constantly changing for people who did not meet the criteria. The budgets were shrinking every year. For the last 20 years, the expectation had been set that if one had been waiting for 20 years, one would receive a house, but that was unfortunately not the case.
Minister Simmers said they had broadly covered the issue of extortion and its impact on human settlements with the various role-players. There was not an easy fix solution, and all the communities, role-players and stakeholders had important roles to play in combating extortion. As long as they were spending money on safety and security, the waiting list for housing was just going to get longer and longer.
Mayor Hill-Lewis agreed, with his colleague and had no further closing remarks.
Maj Gen Voskuil said they had taken note of the various presentations and the input from the various role-players. They were going to intensify their approaches to ensure that they delivered more speedily, with a lot more focus on all the issues raised.
The Chairperson thanked the Committee for the engagements, and emphasised the important role that the communities played in all of this. The SAPS was going to have to regain the confidence of the communities to ensure that they had a good system of communication with them. Communities had to be protected and everybody needed to work together to combat the issues. A lot of money was wasted, when it could have been redirected to service delivery.
She thanked SAPS and the City of Cape Town for being present at the meeting. She reminded the City of Cape Town and the Department to remember to take the details of the community members to look into the issues that they had raised.
The meeting was adjourned.
Maseko, Ms M
Allen, Mr R
August, Mr SN
Brinkhuis, Mr G
Marran, Mr P
Sileku, Mr IM
Simmers, Mr T
Winde, Mr AR
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