'give us land to build on'

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

Protesters numbering about 3000 yesterday took to the streets to highlight their need for houses - and also that, instead of developers, they want to build them themselves.

The protesters, mainly women and youths, demanded that city officials provide them with land so they can build "better houses than the low-cost houses the government is providing".

Federation of the Urban and Rural Poor (FDUP) president Patrick Magebhula, in Durban, said they could build four-bedroom houses with the same amount of money that the government uses to build one-bedroom houses.

The unemployed women and youths were saving between 50c and R1 a day towards buying building materials, he said.

But the council had refused to provide land for them.

"We have councillors who are anti-community development because they benefit from the developers," Magebhula said.

He said the FDUP had been involved in more than 18 building projects in areas that included KwaMashu and Newlands.

Magebhula said the majority of FDUP members had no jobs but had nevertheless been able to save a little to bring back dignity by working together to build dignified homes.

"Even Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has approved our approach in building houses for ourselves rather than to give the money to the developers," Magebhula said.

The protesters, who stopped traffic in Durban, marched to hand over a memorandum to Zamo Ngobese, the informal settlement programme officer in the eThekwini housing department.

Their demands include that:

l All empty buildings be made available to the FDUP to accommodate poor people;

lAbout 2000 serviced sites be made available in the inner city yearly;

lOne racecourse be converted to build homes for the poor; and

lCouncil stop evictions and work with the poor to fund alternative development.

The protesters said they had nothing to commemorate during Youth Month as long as the eThekwini municipality councillors fought against and discouraged people from gaining self-reliance.