450 families at Marry Me Settlement living in limbo

City says land is private and not being formalised

Families at Marry Me informal settlement in Pretoria
Families at Marry Me informal settlement in Pretoria
Image: groundup/ Warren Mabona

The City of Tshwane says Marry Me informal settlement will not be formalised as it is on private land.

In August 2022, GroundUp reported that about 300 families at the settlement in Pretoria would “soon” receive services, such as water and sanitation from the city.

Ward 93 councillor Rabasotho Masupha of the ANC said at the time that the formalisation of the settlement had already started.

But two years later, city spokesperson Lindela Mashigo says the settlement is on private land and will not be formalised.

He said the city only provides “rudimentary services” to informal settlements on state land in line with its constitutional obligations.

When GroundUp visited Marry Me this month, we found mounds of garbage at informal dump sites, dirt roads heavily eroded and people wholly dependent on unreliable and illegal water and electricity connections.

The occupiers have asked the city to relocate them. Most live on a mountain slope which is very cold in winter, prone to flash floods in summer and infested with snakes.

The settlement, established in 2015, got its unusual name because most of the first occupants were young and unmarried people who arrived in Pretoria to seek jobs.

Residents who were previously interviewed said had the government provided serviced stands, they could have already built their own houses by now.

Juliet Mohlakoana says she moved here with her boyfriend and their two children in 2019.

“We need services from the municipality even though this area is not formalised,” she said.

Since 2022, the settlement appears to have grown substantially, and has now about 450 households. New arrivals, such as Kabelo Nkuna, who came in January, have started erecting shacks close to the railway line.

Asked what had happened, Masupha said “formalisation is a very long process, but we are pushing it”.

He denied his previous statement, that “we started the formalisation process this year... that "we still need to determine how many people must be moved to safer places... all the basic services will be provided once the process is concluded”.

He confirmed this quote with GroundUp’s fact checker at the time.

“No, I never said that,” Masupha now says. “I said we were still in the process of requesting the municipality to formalise Marry Me.

​​“The first thing is to engage the executive like the [the mayoral committee members], the council committees and ask them. And we are still requesting them.”

He did not respond to other questions. – GroundUp

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