Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Weeds Little Boxes on MNet

“Little boxes, Little boxes made of ticky tackey
& the people in the houses
All went to the university
Where they were put in boxes
& they all came out the same”
Except the houses made from cannabricks
the rest all look just the same

Cape former fire chief hits back at mayor

Cape Town Mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo owes Chief Fire Officer Piet Smith an apology.

In a ringing endorsement for Smith, Sparks adds: "The reason why they are coping at all is entirely due to the efforts of Chief Smith, the officers and the firefighters." Page 1 Cape Argus

DA Pot calling da kettle black

The Democratic Alliance has admitted to selling Big Bay development properties out of hand, rather than by tender, when it was in power in the Cape Town City Council in 2002. Full Story....

Stove man wins award for curbing shack fires

The inventor of a paraffin stove that shuts itself off when knocked over - which could prevent devastating shack fires and many deaths - has won R100 000 for his brilliant invention. Full Story....

Monday, January 30, 2006

Cape residents ready to take to the streets

Some Cape Town residents have warned of more street protests in the run-up to the local government elections if the city's leadership does not deliver on its promises to accelerate service delivery. (Some confrontational, others offering a solution 2003 - 2005. Not.)

In fact, residents of QQ section in Khayelitsha have planned a march to the mayor's office on Wednesday in order to give her "formal warning" of planned protests if the city does not immediately provide them with better access to water, electricity, sanitation and refuse collection.

The Cape Argus visited the community last week to find out if the city had dealt with their concerns, raised during protest action last year. The community took to the streets in July, burning tyres and even blocking the N2 freeway in a bid to highlight the slow or non-existent delivery of municipal services.

Cape fire fund ignites public's generosity

Raising R1,4-million in five hours is no easy task, but when the money comes from Capetonians who winced at watching their favourite mountain go up in smoke, anything is possible. Full Story....

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Ethekwini to probe toxic township arsenic

An eThekwini Municipality low-cost housing project in the Verulam area was placed on hold when it was discovered that chemical waste products had been dumped on the site.

The waste in question was a by-product of the herbicide monosodium methylarsonate, which, according to the PAN Pesticides Database in the US, is a heavy metal chemical containing arsenic, which has high carcinogenic properties. It is also a potential groundwater contaminant.

Two decades ago, chemical giant Sentrachem unloaded this by-product on the farm Ottawa, which has been earmarked for 130 residential sites, through the KwaZulu-Natal department of housing (but taken over by the eThekwini Municipality). Read More

SA Street kids

SA Street Kids - Global Youth Fund

Habitat Reporter

Property Snapped up in new 'dream city'

Blacks, whites buy homes in unique project, an ambitious housing plan north of Johannesburg, where people can live the South African dream of racial harmony, is moving from vision to reality.

Cosmo City, is the place where, in terms of the new National Housing Code, low-income, middle-income and high-income earners would live side by side and share the same facilities. Read more

An estimated 70 000 people are expected to live in more than 20 000 units upon its completion in 2007.

In Cape Town, despite moving all funds (including disaster management) into the N2 Gateway project budget... only 2,200 units will be provided...

Why can't Cape Town's Municipality and Provincial government - deliver the same standard as in Johannesburg?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Cape mayor slams chief fire officer

Cape Town mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo has lambasted the city's chief fire officer Piet Smith for complaining to the media about the fire service budget, following the devastating fire which started in the vicinity of Platteklip Gorge and moved across the face of Table Mountain. Full Story....

Pictorial News24's inbox ablaze

Friday, January 27, 2006

Houses ablaze in Table Mountain fire

Firefighters have been dispatched to the area around the lower cable station on Table Mountain in Cape Town after a fire broke on Thursday. "One or two properties were already alight, Cape Town's chief fire officer Piet Smith said. Read More Photo: Inge du Plessis

Thursday, January 26, 2006

N2 Gateway dogged by problems

Minutes of a meeting say the N2 Gateway has been delayed by cash-flow problems and is 18 months behind schedule, but council and provincial officials insist the development is "on track".

The City of Cape Town has cut its capital budget by 30 percent to free funds for the project. It has also slashed the number of Gateway flats being built for rent from 6 600 to 2 200.

Rental no shack dweller can afford.
The provincial government housing website returns an error when visiting: Rental Housing Tribunal & Western Cape Housing development Board

According to the minutes of a meeting of the N2 Gateway-Symphony Way community, held in December, building contractors "worked at risk" for six weeks. The consortium "experienced a delay in terms of its claims to council for work done", the minutes say... Read More

Money diverted from fire fighters to the N2 Gateway Project has caused this: Cape Town firefighters in open revolt

Firefighters have come out in open revolt - rejecting the City of Cape Town's denial that the fire service was in a crisis - and have defied a gagging order imposed on them.

After a meeting at the central fire brigade in Roeland Street on Wednesday, DA mayoral candidate Helen Zille said: "From our meeting it became apparent that the number of staff in our fire services is totally inadequate, in spite of the City's claims to the contrary."

Considering more homes have been destroyed by fire than what government has delivered, InternAfrica. We have to question the ability of local government's to manage and govern budget allocations, and the habitat environment of the western Cape.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Fire alarm

The potentially devastating impact of uncontrolled fires is graphically illustrated by the fact that more than 9 000 shacks were razed in the city of Cape Town and its surrounds last year, leaving 114 people dead.

It is evident from these shocking statistics that the people on the sharp edge of this particular natural hazard are, once again, the poorest of the poor. These are, of course, the people that our city's leaders tell us they are most committed to protecting and uplifting.

And yet the same leaders have slashed the City of Cape Town's fire services budget to such an extent that right now there are at least 120 fewer firefighters to battle these fires. And right now, with heat and strong winds, we are in the traditional fire season...

David Sasman, a councillor on the city council's safety and security committee, said that the cuts were being made mainly to fund the N2 Gateway housing project because money promised for it by the province had not been received yet... despite Housing officials told not to 'plead poverty' and R800 mill housing budget not spent

Diverting funding to the housing project and yet leaving shack dwellers increasingly vulnerable to fires - and, therefore, increased homelessness - seems to be, well, playing with fire.

The Editor

Chaos erupts as protesters vent their anger

Bloody violence erupted in Mabopane, outside Pretoria, on Monday with running street battles between township residents and the police as thousands of people took to the streets to vent their anger about poor services, and housing delivery.

The street battles, which left 27 people, including 10 children, injured, saw stone-throwing protesters hurling petrol bombs and barricading streets with burning tyres as authorities fought back, firing teargas and rubber bullets at rioters. The protests saw hundreds of policemen flooding the area in an attempt to stem the violence. Photo: Etienne Creux, The Mercury

Housing officials told not to 'plead poverty'

Provincial housing ministers should not blame a lack of funds for slow delivery when they fail to spend their full budget allocation, the chairperson of Parliament's finance select committee said on Monday.

"Don't ... plead poverty," Tutu Ralane told the housing ministers of four provinces who reported on their spending.Before complaining about an inequitable division of resources among provinces, provincial ministers should look at why available funds are not being spent, he said...

He criticised the ministers for not having specific information on challenges they reported on, including skills shortages."Don't come here and generalise again," Ralane said.

"Don't say you lack capacity. Say you lack engineers, for instance, and tell us what you are doing about it."

Ralane pointed to what he termed the "Hollywood" problem, in which "almost everyone is acting". Full Story

Monday, January 23, 2006

Housing MECs Opinion - but little action

A "culture of compliance" is needed to stop homeless people erecting shacks, Parliament's finance select committee heard.

"What is happening now is that anybody just builds anything, anywhere," said Richard Dyantyi, the Western Cape housing MEC. Dyantyi told the committee that urbanisation and the eviction of labourers by struggling farmers was contributing to the province's shack dwelling problem and adding to the low-cost housing backlog.

The problem of fires and floods in shack areas presented the government with a daunting challenge.The province is engaged in efforts to relocate people living in "stressful areas" to vacant land, but this involves thousands of people and is not an easy task, Dyantyi told the committee." SABC

Cops accused of pistol-whipping squatters

A group of informal residents from a Cape Town suburb say police have brutally assaulted them during a raid on their settlement. Full Story....

Attacked: Booi Davids, 41, is one of several informal residents who say they were struck by Wynberg police during a raid late on Friday night. Photo: Andrew Ingram, Cape Times

CT Mayor's Big Bay BEE self-enrichment

Cape Town Mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo has strongly defended the city's black empowerment policy after critics slammed the Big Bay BEE initiative as a "dismal failure".

Black-owned companies were given the opportunity by the city to purchase 65 erven at Big Bay as part of an empowerment initiative.

But instead of developing the plots in line with Mfeketo's aim of "furthering the city's strategic objectives of increasing broad-based and effective participation by black people in the economy" the black-owned companies simply put many of the plots back on the market - making profits of R80 000 to R200 000 each.

Critics have now suggested the transactions were nothing but "handouts" to a select few who have now been enriched. They argue this is not empowerment. Read More

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Darkest Africa's Travellers' Tales

You need a bagful of clichés and stereotypes to write about this continent,
says Binyavanga Wainaina

Some tips: sunsets and starvation are good. Always use the word Africa or Darkness or Safari in your title. Subtitles may include the words Zanzibar, Masai, Zulu, Zambezi, Congo, Nile, Big, Sky, Shadow, Drum, Sun or Bygone. Also useful are words such as Guerrillas, Timeless, Primordial and Tribal. Note that 'People' means Africans who are not black, while 'The People' means black Africans.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Hoekom is jy op die boom? vra jy - Hoekom is jy daar onder ek se!

Looking at why 'boom' makes sense, is becuase it delivers.

Grows, and always shows up as useful:

Housing MECs fail to deliver

The select portfolio on finance has given housing MEC's a tongue-lashing for not showing up in Parliament today. They were supposed to be there to account for how they have spent their housing budgets. But aside from not turning up, many seem to have underutilised their money. Sporadic protests on non-delivery of housing have escalated in provinces across the country.

The reason given for the non-delivery is that there is not enough money. But the treasury says there is. The Western Cape alone has under spent its budget by R800 million.

Parliament heard that the other big under-spenders are Limpopo, Free State and Mpumalanga. Tutu Ralane, the chairperson of the portfolio committee, says he is disappointed that only the Free State turned up.

"We don't want to hear generalisations about capacity ... we want MECs to start identifying areas where they lack capacity and then focus to address it."The provinces that have spent their money are the Northern Cape and North West. Ralane says they want provinces to share experiences on how best to deliver houses. SABC

Send your Budget Tips to the taxman

South Africa's National Treasury has once more invited members of the public to give Finance Minister Trevor Manuel tips on how they want the country's money to be spent.

The Department of Finance has launched its latest Tips for Trevor campaign to give South
Africans from all walks of life a chance to write to the minister with advice on what they would like to see in the Budget for the 2006/07 fiscal year.

How to send your Tips: E-mail your suggestions to tipsfortrevor@treasury.gov.za, post them electronically on the Tips for Trevor page, or fax them to (012) 315-5126.

According to the ministry, some of the suggestions made by the public will be referred to by the minister when he presents his Budget speech in Parliament - for an amazing 10th time - in Cape Town on 15 February. SAInfo

Cape fire buget cut

The City of Cape Town's fire services budget is to be cut again after being slashed by more than half last year.And the "desperate" staff shortage is expected to become worse. The service's R120-million budget was slashed to R52-million in June and it is set to be cut by R10-million more.

It's decreasing mainly to fund the N2 Gateway Project. Money promised by the provincial government hasn't been received yet - that's why they're cutting back," said David Sasman, a councillor on the city council's safety and security committee. Cape Times

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Housing Crisis Cape Town, Western Cape 1994-2004

The crisis consists of various components including:

• The lack of adequate housing;
• The slow rate of delivery;
• Evictions; and
• Indigence

Centre for Civil Society

Conclusion - Build your own home
The housing backlog has increased proportional to the growth of the population in the province and has reached a crisis point where it is about to spiral out of control.

This study argues that the exacerbation of the crisis in housing is as a result of the overall shift towards market-oriented policies, which shapes the approach of housing authorities.

It is the contention of this study that the basis of this crisis and the reason for it spiraling out of control is the failure of the state to take responsibility for resolving the crisis and the shifting towards market-oriented policies.

Housing authorities have been unable to reverse the growth in the backlog despite the mushrooming of various low-cost housing schemes.

The experiences of poor communities accessing low-cost housing have been very frustrating. The experiences of both the old Council schemes and the new RDP schemes are similar in terms of the crisis of affordability in accessing adequate housing. Build your own home

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Legislation hampers biotech research

Biotechnology research and development in South Africa should not be hampered by onerous and unnecessary safety checks, members of Parliament's agriculture and land affairs committee heard on Tuesday. M&G

Don't be hampered:
Build your own fireproof biotech cannabrick home.

Estate agents facing leaner times

The residential property boom in Cape Town seems to be coming to an end after four years, leaving a saturated market which is likely to see a drop-off in the number of estate agents. Full Story....

Firefighter's Onrus

Firefighters ditch Cape - The Western Cape reaches the height of the fire season, more than 100 Cape Town firefighters and station officers have left their jobs - with 21 leaving in the past four months because of "poor pay". Full Story....

Runaway veld fire threatens Onrus homes - Several houses were under threat when strong winds fanned a veld fire which raged out of control in the Babilonstoring mountain area near Onrus. Full Story....

Gravy plane: the plot thickens

Taxpayers' money, in addition to bankrolling a holiday for Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, has also paid for a holiday for her friend, Thuthukile Mazibuko-Skweyiya. She's the wife of Zola Skweyiya, the minister of social welfare.

After two days of refusing to clarify this issue, the Presidency has finally agreed to issue a comprehensive "clarification statement" on Tuesday. This comes in the wake of repeated attempts to get comment on the issue from the Presidency, the ministry of social development and the government's communications service. Pretoria News

Haitian Gravy Train:
For some people the year started with a series of bad days in the office. Mbeki, for example, started 2004 with a visit to Haiti to attend the island's bicentennial independence celebrations but some of the president Jean-Bertrand Aristide's opponents fired at South African security personnel and Mbeki soon returned home. More

Before long Aristide was also on his way to south Africa. He's settled in Pretoria where he occupies a pleasant office at Unisa and teaches theology or How To Be a President.

South Africa donated R10-million to help fund the celebration of Haiti's independence More facts

Land protest shuts down N2 on Garden Route

Protesters on Monday closed the N2 outside Mossel Bay for more than five hours, when a long-simmering land dispute erupted in dawn violence that left three people injured. Mossel Bay police used rubber bullets and stun grenades to keep the freeway open soon after a 150-strong protest began at 4am...

"Every election they promise us electricity, land and housing. After every election they disappear," said Stephen Booysen, a building subcontractor and the community's leader.

When the shack dwellers offered to move onto higher municipal land near by, an environmental impact study was ordered by the mayor's office, which reported that a rare type of spider lived on the land in question, prompting fury among the community and "Less than Spiders" local headlines.

"We're not going anywhere," said Lena Williams, of the Power Town residents committee. "This is like old South Africa. If they want old South Africa they will get it. They will see tyres burning here. Cape Times

70% of youth ambivalent about voting - survey

Seventy percent of young people feel there are not good reasons to vote in the upcoming municipal elections, a survey revealed today. Cynicism and ambivalence among potential voters suggested voter turnout could be low.

In Cape Town, 40% believed local councillors did not help their constituents, with little difference across the country between age groups, language groups and cities. SABC

Friday, January 13, 2006

Long walk to closure for Cape fire victims

One year after losing their homes to a horrendous blaze in Joe Slovo, residents of the temporary housing village "Tsunami" in Delft still await the light at the end of the tunnel.

After spending six months in damp and rain in Langa's makeshift tent city, the 1 600 families were moved to community halls in Delft before moving into the temporary houses.Tsunami seems an oddly appropriate name for the settlement, where the survivors of the fire that swept through their former homes spend their days in uncertainty. They also face some hostility from the surrounding community of Delft.

Nosango Jwampini has been living in the settlement since June. She is unemployed and spends much of her time at home."I'm not really sure what's going on. Nobody (among the authorities) is telling us what is happening," she said. Read More

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Township residents left homeless in Cape fire

More than 140 people were left homeless on Thursday morning after a fire destroyed 30 shacks at Barcelona informal settlement in Gugulethu, SABC radio news reported. The report said firefighters managed to put out the blaze. Five fire engines were on the scene.

Police spokesperson Randall Stoffels said the disaster management team was seeking alternative accommodation for the victims." At about 3:30am this morning, 25 shacks were destroyed. A candle which fell in one of the homes caused the blaze," Stoffels said. There were no injuries. - Sapa

Cape Town's children worry about fire

Hundreds of Capetonians face 2006 homeless following fires in the Masiphumelele neighbourhood in the South Peninsula last week. Among them, undoubtedly, are schoolchildren who may now enter their new classes without uniforms, books and possibly without even school fees, let alone somewhere to study and sleep and eat.

And it's very likely that among the homeless are the very children and teenagers who told University of Cape Town (UCT) researchers that fire was one of their worst nightmares.

"Worrying about fires is one of the main issues highlighted by children and teenagers in our study in 2005," says Dr Rachel Bray, of the Centre for Social Science Research at UCT. "They know that people die. And they know that services find it difficult to come in time because the nearest fire station is in Fish Hoek, several kilometres down the road." M&G

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Joe Slovo residents still homeless

More than 20 000 people from Joe Slovo in Langa, near Cape Town, who where left destitute by a massive fire exactly a year ago, are still homeless. This despite the fact that some units on the N2 Gateway Housing Project have been completed. The flats have been standing empty since September last year.
Pogiso Molapo, the acting director for human settlements in the Cape Town Unicity, says the flats will only be occupied by June. Molapo says the city has already used 90% of its budget for the current financial year. He says they expect to get additional money to complete the N2 Gateway Project as soon as possible.
The project was set to be completed in June last year. The Joe Slovo residents say they have no plans of voting in the upcoming elections. SABC

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Big money for CT City bosses

Cape Town - Four of the City of Cape Town's top managers earned bonuses last year that pushed their before-tax earnings to over R1m each...

City manager Wallace Mgoqi received a bonus of R186 011.98 on top of his salary of R966 296.04 and a car allowance of R90 000. "Similar bonuses were handed to three other top management figures, perhaps the most disturbing of which was the R178 832.50 paid to the executive director of transport, roads and planning, Mike Marsden, on top of his salary of R929 000.04,"

"[This was] the same year that the metro was placed on national government's Project Consolidate programme for dysfunctional municipalities," Read More

Monday, January 09, 2006

Two youths killed in Cape Town shack fire

Two youths have burnt to death this morning when the shack they were sleeping in caught alight at Gugulethu on the Cape Flats. Details are sketchy, but the Cape Town fire department says the fire apparently started in a shack behind a house in a section of the township. ... SABC

'We're sick and tired of empty promises'

Durban - At least two councillors have been murdered and homes of many others have been torched as 881 protests were held in 2005 - an average of 16 a day.

This is the anger South Africans vented in a violent show of dissatisfaction over the government's poor service delivery.

But local government elections loom and the ANC has produced another set of promises to deliver services and ensure councillors do their jobs. However, political observers warn it may not be enough to convince South Africans to vote in the local elections in March.In KwaZulu-Natal, 20 000 shack dwellers of the Abahlali Base Mjondolo (shack-dwellers' movement) proclaimed a "no land, no vote" stance.

"We're sick and tired of the empty promises of government for the past 10 years. Voting means putting politicians back in power to again oppress us. Anyone from our social movement will tell you it is a waste of time," Zikode said. "Our problems of needing housing, sanitation, water and electricity are only mentioned around election time," he added.

University of KwaZulu-Natal philosophy researcher Richard Pithouse said the fact that the ANC wanted to act against corrupt councillors may be an indication that they acknowledge things have gone very badly with the last term of office of council officials.

"The protests all over the country are a significant indication of people's anger and disillusionment. In some cases there were well over 5 000 people marching, and these were from among the poorest communities in the country," he said.

This article was originally published on page 1 of Cape Times on January 09, 2006

Two burnt beyond recognition in braai blaze

Two cousins were burnt to death early today in a shack in the backyard of their grandmother’s Gugulethu house after apparently falling asleep with an electric braai still on. Lifa Sika, 20, of Gugulethu and Khaya Mahlanyana, 19, of Summer Greens died despite desperate efforts by relatives and neighbours to extricate them from the burning shack. Read more

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Homes Of The Billionaires 2005

How does the other half live? Well, it depends. Try more like how does the other 0.00001% live? See more

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the median American house size is slightly more than 2,000 square feet, or 186 square meters. The average south African home is about 25 square meters...

Or it could be 82 square meters if built like this.

President promises commitment to service delivery

President Thabo Mbeki has told a massive crowd at the Athlone Stadium in Cape Town that the ANC will intensify efforts at local level to improve service delivery...

This follows months of sporadic and sometimes violent protest by communities across the country over housing and service delivery. The manifesto recommits the ANC to service delivery goals it has already set, saying no community would still be using the bucket toilet system by 2007.

"By 2010, when South Africa hosts the Soccer World Cup, all households will have access to clean running water and decent sanitation," it said. "As we celebrate the centenary of the ANC in 2012 every house will have access to electricity. By supervising the work of all our public representatives in government, we will ensure that these tasks are met.

"By improving the capacity of all government structures to serve the people, we will make government work better for you."By fighting corruption and arrogance among some who work in government, the ANC is determined to respect the people's mandate." - Additional reporting by Sapa SABC

Banana City

Stalled: Banana City residents return to their shacks after being informed of the Durban High Court's decision to postpone indefinitely an eviction case brought by the University of KwaZulu-Natal against three squatter families. Photo: Bongwe Guvede, Sunday Tribune

Friday, January 06, 2006

SA shacks increase by 417 a day

The number of shack dwellings in South Africa rose from 1,45-million in 1996 to 2,14-million in 2003, according to Minister of Housing Lindiwe Sisulu. That was 210 shacks per day on average in the five years between 1996 and 2001.

This figure rose too double that at 417 new shacks a day on average in the next 3 year period between 2001 and 2003... M&G

'There is no holiday in the shacks'

From the slums of Durban, a new movement is giving voice to millions of South Africans living in shacks and increasingly feeling forgotten by the post-apartheid government.

Abahlali Base Mjondolo, the Zulu name for shack dwellers, is the largest group to emerge from South Africa's informal settlements, the sprawling slums of wood, corrugated steel and cardboard shacks that have mushroomed near cities... M&G

Fires raze 8 000 city shacks in 2005

The latest fire in the Joe Slovo informal settlement brought the number of shacks destroyed in greater Cape Town to about 8 000 in less than a year - in nearly 2000 shack blazes.
Almost 28 000 people were left homeless. The frequent fires have cost the City of Cape Town and the province R13 million in emergency funding. This does not include costs of firefighting.

More than 100 people lost their lives last year in informal settlement fires in the greater Cape Town area. Read More

Western Cape Disaster Management said that more than R6 billion has been spent on fighting fires since the Christmas weekend. SABCnews

R6 billion could build 400, 000 fire-proof Cannabrick Homes eliminating the entire housing backlog in the Western Cape and saving the cost of disaster management.

Only government planning & delivery is holding this up.
Year of bad service and dishonesty

Corruption driven Xenophobia

Township attacks on foreigners have left a trail of unsuspecting victims whose only crime is their nationality.

The informal settlement of Olievenhoutbosch, south of Pretoria, has again become the flashpoint in the xenophobia spreading across the country.
Local government officials have been accused by residents of an informal settlement south of Pretoria of making money by illegally allocating low-cost houses to foreigners. Full Story...

Untroubled amid trouble: A resident of Olievenhoutbosch hangs out the washing while a shack owned by a Zimbabwean burns in the background. Several homes belonging to foreigners have been torched in vigilante-style attacks. Photo: Steve Lawrence, The Star

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Jo Slovo anniversary fire leaves thousands homeless, again.

About 4 000 people were left homeless and 800 shacks destroyed as a fire ripped through the Joe Slovo informal settlement in Langa early on Thursday.

The blaze comes almost exactly a year since a huge fire devastated Joe Slovo, razing 4 000 homes and leaving 12 000 people destitute.

Earlier this week the Cape Argus reported that the large number of devastating fires in informal settlements has forced an increase of almost R5-million in the Western Cape department of social services budget for disasters for this financial year.

A statement by the City of Cape Town revealed that there were nearly 2 000 fires in informal settlements last year, leaving about 28 000 people homeless. Cape Argus SABC

Doubts fuel land grab saga

Current uncertainty about the laws and policies on agricultural land is being fuelled by two factors: Expropriation with compensation that does not necessarily reflect the land's market value, and rumours that the approach of "a willing buyer and a willing seller" will be changed. Read More

RDP Houses crumble in storm

Several houses have been destroyed by a violent storm in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape. The storm wreaked havoc, destroying homes and uprooting telephone poles.

Many people were left without power. RDP houses were the hardest hit. The full extent of the damage is yet to be assessed, but it is estimated to run into millions of rands. SABC

Give life a name

Michelle Makgalefa was a mother for just 48 hours. When she gave birth on Monday, she and her boyfriend Albert Lehong were so happy, they named their daughter Lethabo, meaning "joy" in Sepedi.

On Wednesday morning, the Diepsloot shack where Lethabo was born was smashed to pieces by a flash flood, and her mother's body was found by rescue workers a few metres away in the swollen Jukskei River, which had burst its banks after heavy rains.

Lethabo's father managed to save his child but could do nothing for his 28-year-old partner. Full Story

The Cost of Fire

As fires at Franschhoek continued to burn for an 11th day running, the people suspected of starting some of them may have to pay the cost of firefighting, which has reached R800 000 and will be over R1 million by Friday. The fires cost almost R100 000 a day to fight. capetimes

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Firefighters battle Redhill blaze

Three helicopters are being used to fight a fire that started near Red Hill road at Simon's Town in the Cape Peninsula.

Wilfred Solomons, the Cape Town disaster management spokesperson, says the informal settlement at Red Hill is not in danger, but homes near the Seawind Farm are being threatened. Solomons says the strong south easterly wind is making it difficult for firefighters to extinguish the flames. sabcnews

Boland blaze destroys vegetation

Yet another fire has broken out in the Boland area, destroying 5 000 hectares of young fynbos. Full Story....

Cape fires caused by negligence

The major Franschhoek fires in the Western Cape, some burning since Christmas Day, and another at Simonsberg near Stellenbosch, are the result of human negligence, officials say. Full Story...

Sustainable Fresh Food

Fish and Vegetables : Aquaponics - Backyard Aquaponics

Wind; Fire; Water

There is concern that the Cape fires that have been raging in the Franschhoek and Paarl areas for eleven days, could continue unabated if strong winds do not subside. The fires in the Groot Drakenstein mountain range are now burning high up in the mountains. sabcnews

SOUTHERN AFRICA: Heavy rainfall claims lives, leaves thousands homeless Reuters

Flood Water in Johannesburg:
The body of a woman swept away by flood waters in Diepsloot Johannesburg has been recovered. Rescue workers embarked on a search for the woman after her shack was swept away by the river with her family still inside.

200 shacks were swept away by flood waters; leaving 850 homeless. "We would like to reiterate our warning that people refrain from building their houses or shacks on the river embankment," said Eugene Opperman, the police superintendent of the province's water wing and diving unit. sabcnews

10 days of Fire

Cape Town - Firefighters entered their tenth day on Tuesday evening fighting a blaze in the Franschhoek mountains above Dewdale farm. News24 Photo: Alan Taylor, Cape Argus
A new mountain fire is raging in the Western Cape at Vermont near Hermanus in the Overberg. SABC

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Shack fires cost Cape millions

The large number of devastating fires in informal settlements has forced an increase of almost R5-million in the Western Cape social services budget for disasters this financial year.

A statement by the City of Cape Town indicates that there were nearly 2 000 fires in informal settlements last year. More than 8 000 homes had already been destroyed by December 13 and about 28 000 people had been left destitute.

Last week alone 95 shacks burnt down in Masiphumelele, displacing about 120 families, and more than 300 shacks were razed in Khayelitsha. Police spokesperson Randall Stoffels said about 100 dwellings were destroyed.

The head of social services and poverty alleviation, Virginia Petersen, said the department had originally earmarked slightly more than R7-million for disasters but had already spent R12-million. Cape Argus

Fire kills 1 leaving 800 Homeless

Cape Town, Feeling the heat: Residents of Vrygrond informal settlement near Kuils River desperately tried to save their belongings when a fire destroyed about 200 shacks yesterday morning. One woman was killed in the blaze.

CapeTimes Photo: Herbert Hendricks

Building democracy

As South Africa heads into 2006 with a buoyant economy and booming business confidence, spiritual and secular leaders are sounding an optimistic yet admonitory note. The Most Reverend Njongonkulu Ndungane, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, notes in his year-end message that many public officials are using their positions to get rich quickly rather than serve the public.

The president noted that people expect much from national, provincial and municipal governments - improved quality of life, better service delivery, improved safety and security against crime, more jobs and so on. Yet service delivery depends on local government, and the best programmes, as planned by central government, too often break down at municipal level.

There has been an unseemly scramble in some areas for seats on municipal councils, driven too often by corrupt motives.

Mbeki said citizens expected honest, accountable service from councillors. They are not always getting such service. The malaise in municipal government is serious. Official figures show that 136 out of 284 municipalities cannot perform their basic functions. Administrative skills are wanting. The weakness of many municipalities needs to be urgently remedied. A good starting point would be the election of councillors in March who are genuinely committed to serve their communities rather than line their own pockets. Cape Times

Monday, January 02, 2006

Cape fires not extinguished yet

About 200 firefighters are continuing to battle the blaze in the Franschoek Valley in the Western Cape. Fransuliene Bosch, a Working on Fire spokesperson, says strong winds and hot, dry conditions are hampering efforts to bring the fire under control. Bosch says three helicopters are being used to water bomb the area, where more than 20 000 hectares of vegetation have already been destroyed.

Teams from the City of Cape Town’s disaster management are still on full alert. Wilfred Solomons, one of the managers, has issued a special warning to people living in informal settlements:

“Keep matches, lighters, paraffin and any flammable substances away from children. Keep stoves on flat surfaces to prevent the wind from blowing the flame towards flammable material, and very importantly, never leave paraffin stoves or any flammable substance or open fires unattended.” sabcnews

Sunday, January 01, 2006

SA is Africa's leading jailer

South Africa, an economic and political leader in Africa, is also the continent's number one jailer. If prisons are a reflection of society, what conclusions are to be drawn from this reality, particularly in a nation rightfully proud of its nascent democracy?

Few dispute that South Africa's social and economic disparities help to fuel crime. Inspecting Judge Hannes Fagan writes in the 2003/04 annual report of the Judicial Inspectorate of Prisons that of crimes committed, 30% were economic crimes and 50% aggressive crimes "largely engendered by poverty and joblessness and the frustrations that they cause".

The immediate cost to the state of keeping so many people in jail is approximately R25-million a day. Read More

One killed, 35 shacks destroyed in fire

One person was killed and about 35 shacks were destroyed when fires broke out in the early hours of the New Year at two informal settlements in Johannesburg, emergency services said. sabcnews
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