Education is key to avoiding demolition in Kenya say authorities ahead of the Big 5 Construct East Africa Exhibition

1 day 12 hours ago

  •     Ongoing demolition in Kenya targets buildings that have been constructed without following the due legal process.
  •     Insight into demolition will be covered throughout free CPD certified workshops at The Big 5 Construct East Africa, 7-9 November at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre.

National Construction Authority (NCA) and the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) say they will now focus more on educating Kenyans on the ‘necessary legal requirements’ for developers to avoid demolitions.

The two government institutions observe that with some 4,000 buildings targeted for demolition in Kenya, there is urgent need for construction professionals to review the correct legal approval process as a means of safeguarding future projects and avoid losses occasioned by demolitions.

NCA and NEMA, who sit on the technical committee charged with auditing unsafe buildings and those built on wetlands, say that the current demolition action whose primary focus is reclaiming riparian land in Nairobi is an example of what could happen if asset owners neglect to follow the due legal process.

The two authorities announce they will utilize The Big 5 Construct East Africa, the official Exhibition of National Construction Week Kenya, to highlight these issues.

    “The benefit of our talk at The Big 5 Construct East Africa is to help construction professionals better understand the reasoning behind the ongoing demolitions in Kenya. The NCA looks forward to providing our clients with the right advise at this event,” observed Eng. Stephen Mwilu, Manager of Regional Offices NCA.

Mwilu notes that demolition should be carried out in the reverse order of construction as far as appropriate. The structural elements, ahead of the internal floors, should be demolished in the following sequence: the slab; the secondary beams; then the main beams.

According to NEMA, non-compliance includes adding extra units on top of the approved ones, encroachment into the road reserve, encroachment into the riparian reserve and failure to observe the building line and setbacks.

 “Even when approval has been granted, failure to comply with the approval conditions is attracting demolition by the county government,” adds Leah Muthoni Mutonyi, HEW Consultant and Environmental Expert, NEMA adding that “Demolition leads to a lot of destruction on construction equipment and materials coupled with financial losses. It is therefore very necessary for developers to understand how to avoid it.”

Both NCA and NEMA representatives will be speaking at The Big 5 Construct East Africa from 7-9 November at Kenyatta International Convention Centre. More insight into the topic of demolition in Kenya will be available to visitors through the free CPD (continuing professional development) certified workshops at the event.

40 workshop sessions will cover a wealth of added topics under themes of Affordable Housing, Technology & Design in Building Construction, Project Management and Engineering, Sustainability in Construction including a dedicated series for Women in Construction.

The Big 5 Construct East Africa will also bring over 220 exhibitors from more than 20 countries including Qatar, Germany, Turkey, France, Italy, China and Greece to showcase the latest building innovations and solutions.

Now in its second edition, the launch event welcomed over 7,000 participants in 2016, hosted more than 150 exhibitors from 20 countries, and held 20 workshop sessions.

The National Construction Week organised by the NCA is backed by the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing & Urban Development. The event also enjoys the support of the Engineers Board of Kenya, the Institute of Quantity Surveyors of Kenya, Kenya Revenue Authority, Kenya Green Building Society, Kenya Property Developers Association and many more high-level trade associations in the construction industry.

To know more about The Big 5 Construct East Africa, click

To see the full education agenda, click

To register to attend the event, click


Informal economies are diverse: South African policies need to recognise this

1 day 18 hours ago
Informal trading in Fordsburg, Johannesburg. Shutterstock

South Africa is currently mulling over ideas and agreements that recently came out of a two-day jobs summit. The country is losing the battle against high joblessness. The latest figures show unemployment stood at 27.2% during the second quarter of this year. The number is much higher, close to 40%, when discouraged work seekers are included. This is very high by international standards since the average global unemployment rate is 7.6% while the same figure for African countries is 8.8%.

Lots was said and resolved during the job summit. But not enough attention was given to the position and role of informal employment which accounts for about one third of all the country’s workers.

This is disappointing given all the talk about jump-starting informal economic sectors and frequent mentions of developing the “township economy”. The summit agreement does reflect a broad objective of providing “township and informal settlement enterprise support”. But it’s thin on detail.

There’s even more cause given the country’s traditional approach to developing the informal sector. Many proposals focus on entrepreneurship or unleashing the potential of small informal firms. Such interventions are usually limited to support in the form of training and micro-finance. This is a fairly narrow view from a jobs creation perspective as it focuses on a very small group of informal workers.

What’s needed is a strategy with a broader view of informal employment. It must focus on increasing the incomes and improving the conditions of workers in all segments of the informal economy.

The needs of informal workers are likely to vary among different worker groups. Nevertheless, a good start would be to ensure that the regulatory environment, basic social protections and urban infrastructure are supportive. Numerous policies could be used to support informal livelihoods, such as providing access to electricity as has been done in Durban’s Warwick Junction Market.

The point is that simple policies backed by effective implementation have the potential to improve existing livelihoods in the informal economy and to create more jobs. But this can only happen if the diversity of the informal economy is well understood.

A dynamic sector

The informal economy in South Africa is relatively small compared with other developing or emerging economies. That’s not to say that it’s insignificant. A recent International Labour Organisation report showed that informal employment makes up roughly a third – 5 million – of total non-agricultural employment. This is a large segment of the South African workforce.

But what is the informal economy and why does it matter to job creation?

It’s important to dispose of the common misunderstandings. The informal economy is often depicted as part of a “shadow economy”, or informal workers as “plucky entrepreneurs” or regulation evaders. There are some activities and workers that fall into these categories. But the sector is in fact much more dynamic.

The informal economy includes a diverse set of workers. The vast majority (64%) are employees. This includes:

  • people working in informal sector entities such as small corner shops or hair salons

  • informal employees in formal firms or private households who do not have social protection or job security.

About 28% of informal workers are own-account workers which means that they are self-employed in activities such as street trading or waste collection but are not registered for tax or VAT and do not employ others.

The other group (just under 7% of the informal economy) of self-employed workers employ others in their informal sector businesses. This is the group (employers) that is increasingly receiving attention in World Bank and International Monetary Fund publications as workers that could be “formalised” and brought into the tax net and other regulatory structures.

Hierarchies of risk

Earnings and the risk of poverty also differ considerably across the informal economy.

Unlike common depictions of the informal economy as a single “undifferentiated” group of workers, the evidence shows that informal employment is complex and made up of varied sectors. For example, the links between poverty and employment differ, substantially, by gender and type of employment.

An analysis of South Africa’s 2015 Labour Market Dynamics data-set shows marked gender based wage inequalities in informal employment in the form of a pyramid hierarchy.

Poverty risk by status in employment. Source: Author’s calculations from the 2015 Labour Market Dynamics in South Africa.

Women earn less than men within each of the same broad categories of employment. Women are also concentrated in the lowest paid types of employment in the South African informal economy. Men only make up a small percentage at the bottom of the pyramid, where earnings are lowest and poverty risks are highest. Moreover, most unpaid family workers are women.

These differences have significant policy consequences. Understanding these (and other) sources of vulnerability is crucial to designing policies which address poverty reduction, gender equality and income inequality.

For example, a policy which aims to help informal entrepreneurs to expand would almost certainly have a gender bias towards men since almost 90% of informal employers in South Africa are men. And it is also likely that workers at the bottom of the pyramid will face a number of different risks from those at the top. As such, the policy solutions may vary for workers in different segments of the pyramid.

Women occupy more vulnerable positions of employment in the informal economy. Author’s calculations from the 2015 Labour Market Dynamics in South Africa.
Acknowledging diversity

As the country reflects on the outcomes of the summit on jobs there is an opportunity to think carefully about the South African workers who earn their livelihoods in the informal economy. If policymakers are serious about supporting jobs in the “township economy” they need to understand the structure of the informal economy, the different characteristics of the workers who comprise it and, importantly, which risks they face as they craft livelihoods.

The Conversation

Mike Rogan is a research associate in the Urban Policies Programme of WIEGO (Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing).

Thirty Keyes Residential Apartments Unveiled at Keyes Art Mile

2 days ago
The design of a new apartment block designed by StudioMAS, called Thirty Keyes, has been unveiled, adding a residential element to the Keyes Art Mile precinct in Rosebank.

View looking south east, with the Thirty Keyes residential development in the foreground and the art foundation and public exhibition space in the background. Shops line Keyes Avenue to achieve an active and walkable neighbourhood art precinct.

A series of stylish, thoughtfully designed residential apartments will soon break ground along the Keyes Arts Mile in Rosebank, ideal for those urban lovers who desire a communal, convenient and enriching lifestyle. To be called Thirty Keyes, and with a first phase of fifty-five units on sale, these apartments are set to become some of the most sought-after living spaces in Johannesburg.

The brainchild of Tomorrow Co., the same people behind the Keyes Art Mile, this project has been percolating for eight years, in which time some of the industry’s greatest minds have shaped its symbiotic character. With a strong focus on a thriving, collaborative neighbourhood, and perfectly located on the Dunkeld border, Thirty Keyes looks onto leafier suburbs whilst being a heartbeat away from the pulsing, rapidly emerging high street that is the Keyes Art Mile. Live. Work. Play. Love. Do it all.

This new venture is as much a property development as it is a commitment to sustaining and growing the thriving, interactive community that has, over the past few years, brought the neighbourhood to life. “We are so encouraged by how the Keyes Art Mile has contributed to Johannesburg’s cultural landscape,” explains Anton Taljaard, Co-Founder and Director of Tomorrow Co. “The atmosphere, sense of engagement and participation that prevails along the avenue is all set to work in harmony with the respect that the design of Thirty Keyes has given to privacy – manifested in quiet, private courtyards, rooftop gardens and the greened communal courtyard for residents only. The perfect balance has been struck between moments of quiet and engaging public spaces – which all makes for the ideal living environment for the modern, culture-loving individual”.

And that, in essence, is what makes Thirty Keyes so different. It’s a change of habit, where your living space extends beyond the front door into a vibrant, diverse neighbourhood, a seamless flow from home comforts into a highly stimulating outside world.

Beyond the private spaces of Thirty Keyes – and building on Tomorrow Co.’s alignment with and close proximity to art galleries like CIRCA, Everard Read, SMAC and TMRW Gallery – one of the standout features of Thirty Keyes is that it will live adjacent to a dedicated art foundation, a cross between a private museum and public exhibition area.

Designed as a mixed-use development with paradigm-shifting ambitions, this project aims to be a catalyst for communal values, where people walk and connect, interacting with a broader community and breathing new life into an old, cherished suburb.

With shops spilling out onto Keyes and Jellicoe Avenues to facilitate an active street life, it will be home to a range of new neighbourhood establishments – from artisanal delis and atypical restaurants to design studios, coffee shops and a selection of service outlets. This retail offering is an extension of the ‘high street’ of the Trumpet Building – home to thriving eateries like Marble, Momo Kuro, BGR and Milk Bar, and stores like Shelflife, Anatomy, Okapi and Cassina.

The concourse level, much like a piazza, is an extension of the street. It will be accessed by a generous set of stairs off Jellicoe Avenue and form a forecourt to the Thirty Keyes reception and the ground floor ‘atelier’ units and coffee shop.

The art foundation space will sit above the concourse level and will be accessed via escalators and a set of lifts and above the art space, the development will house office space, an expansive rooftop garden and two penthouses with optimal views across Johannesburg’s skyline. Residents of Thirty Keyes will have access – from their apartments via two walkways – to this building.

But it’s the open, free-flowing atmosphere and careful consideration that makes Thirty Keyes truly special. Inspired by European street culture and with a huge emphasis on courtyard living, the apartments all look out onto a central communal space, overflowing with greenery and intended as a meeting point to connect residents. The lowest level apartments are high above street level, giving all owners magnificent views, and those with private courtyards enjoy a seamless flow from indoors to out. A few of the apartments have access to private roof gardens, and the rooftop public park in the adjacent building will be open for all to enjoy. This opportunity to live inside/out, to enjoy fresh-aired freedom without having to leave your living space, is another one of this precinct’s thoughtful distinctions.

StudioMAS, the same firm that designed CIRCA and Trumpet on Keyes, are once again in charge, but as lead architect Pierre Swanepoel explains, they intend to do more than merely erect another urban monument. “Thirty Keyes is not a trophy building, but rather a testament to our belief in the unique charm of the greater Rosebank area,” he says. “Our objective is to create a space inspired by what’s already here, a building that helps shape the way people live, and that through this, these people will shape the environment around them.”

The design of a new apartment block designed by StudioMAS, called Thirty Keyes, has been unveiled, adding a residential element to the Keyes Art Mile precinct in Rosebank.

View looking west within the Thirty Keyes residential development showing the landscaped courtyard space between apartments – a space for neighbours to meet.

Private but designed to create a sense of belonging, these apartments are aligned to and influenced by global living trends, where supportive residential communities are emerging, creating inclusive buffers against the global instability that threatens to erode our empathy and humanity. A combination of minimal, understated elegance and super practical, astutely smart spatial solutions, there are a number of options for buyers to choose from:

  • Solo Series: single-level master bedroom apartments, paired with a balcony.
  • Demi Series: single-level master bedroom apartments, paired with a balcony, and either a library room or guest bedroom.
  • Demi Series Plus: single-level master bedroom apartments, paired with a balcony and a spacious second bedroom.
  • Duo Series Courtyard: two bedroom, double-level apartments, with private courtyard as well as direct courtyard access.
  • Duo Series Roof Garden: two bedroom, double-level apartments, paired with a balcony and private roof garden.
  • The Editions: double-level apartments, each with two en-suite bedrooms, a library or pyjama lounge, a spacious balcony and a private courtyard that leads to a generously proportioned roof garden with uninterrupted views of Johannesburg.
  • Atelier Series: double-level apartments designed for living and working, combining a lower-level studio or showroom space with an upper-level Solo apartment.

The apartments all ascribe to an unfettered, efficient design ethic that places as much importance on sleek, high-end finishes as it does on the real-life, day-to-day realities of inhabiting a space. Andrea Kleinloog, Partner and Interior Designer at HesseKleinloog, is overseeing all of the interiors. “To work on a residential development that is exceptional on every level is a dream project,” she enthuses. “We approached Thirty Keyes with a balanced sensitivity to ensure we stayed true to the vision of highly optimised spatial design, innate luxury and a harmonious link with the abundant natural influences. Above all, we wanted to create beautiful canvases that are open to individual interpretation.”

The design team dedicated an enormous amount to the project, fitting the apartments with the finest products from world-class brands like SMEG, Kohler and Belgotex Softology. There will also be opportunities to add additional elements or accessories like bespoke garden packages, garden furniture, and timber shutters that enhance outdoor living. All buyers will be offered a free consultation with True Design that includes preferential purchase arrangements on global design brands like Cassina, Kartell and Moroso.

The naturally sublime form of Thirty Keyes is supported by seamless functionality. The entire building is always-on with electricity and water, and all gas hobs are council-linked, while concierge, laundry, dry cleaning and tailoring services, a fibre-ready infrastructure, and in-apartment catering, grocery and floral deliveries are easily arranged. An integrated neighbourhood security system with additional control rooms and streetlights designed to increase safety are in place, and have been implemented off the back Tomorrow Co.’s existing operations.

It’s all been designed to make life simpler, to free up time and to give residents the opportunity to be inspired by the city that surrounds them. These highly efficient, incredibly functional apartments are suited to those who want the comfort and convenience of an impeccably designed space coupled with the adventure and spirit that an area like this offers on any given night. It’s intelligent living for those who live a very full life.

In addition, Thirty Keyes is conveniently central, close to transport hubs like the Gautrain, safely protected by a highly efficient patrolling service and a stone’s throw from over 250 public parking bays, these in addition to the building’s dedicated spaces. Rosebank’s premium property prices make any purchase here a sound investment.

There are many reasons to love Thirty Keyes. There’s the seamless integr

ation with an active arts precinct, a natural sense of community and effortless shifts from work life to home entertainment to social pursuits. But ultimately, it’s a blank canvas, one created for its inhabitants to create their own rituals, to customise their own experiences and to curate a life that is fulfilling, enthralling and deeply connected.


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Savage + Dodd Architects Named WAFX Winner

2 days ago
Savage+Dodd Architects in collaboration with UrbanWorks have been named the World Architecture Festival (WAF)X Power and Justice Winner 2018.

Tower Inten_city, the award-winning design by Savage+Dodd Architects in collaboration with UrbanWorks, radically shifts the status quo on urban living in Johannesburg through a story of spatial justice showcasing the conversion of a previously inaccessible 30-storey inner city tower block into a mixed-use environment

The WAFX Prize (sponsored by Greencoat) is awarded to 10 future projects that identify key challenges that architects will need to address in the coming years and was created as part of the World Architecture Festival’s 10th anniversary celebrations in 2017 (WAF 10 Manifesto).  Winning future projects which address the Manifesto issues are entered for the prize. Key challenges span diverse topic areas, including climate, energy and carbon, water, ageing and health, re-use, smart cities, building technology, cultural identity, ethics, power and justice.

The prize winners will be given the opportunity to present their projects live at the World Architecture Festival on 28th and 29th November, with the overall winner receiving a prize at the Festival’s star-studded Gala Dinner on the 30th November, the culmination of the three-day event at the RAI convention centre in the Dutch capital, Amsterdam. The WAFX judges were impressed by the diversity of innovative approaches by architects and designers across the globe, which varied from innovative solar panel fields in The Netherlands, to urban green corridors in Bangkok, eco farms in rural Vietnam and river parks in Colombia.

Over and above presenting this project on the Main Stage at the WAF Festival, Savage+Dodd and Urban Works will present their project as a WAF Shortlist competitor in the COMPETITION ENTRIE S– FUTURE PROJECT category.  Should they win in this round of judging they will go on to present to the Master Jury for the grand winner prize in the FUTURE category.



Re-imagining Tower on Main to include EQUITY, DIVERSITY and DENSITY in the inner city of Johannesburg

Rapid growth and investment resulted in an unprecedented concentration of high-rise developments in Johannesburg in the 1960s. These towers served the exclusive interests of corporate capital. After the fall of apartheid and the dramatic economic, demographic and political shifts, these towers remained unchallenged to serve their new context – one which is Urban, African + Cosmopolitan.

Further, Johannesburg has a historical debt relating to the inequality perpetuated by apartheid spatial planning which is played out through everyday experiences of living and working in the city.

Tower Inten_city is a story of spatial justice showcasing the conversion of a previously inaccessible 30-storey inner city tower block into a mixed-use environment that combines;

  • Dense apartment living that has compact living units for families and micro units for singles integrated with social interaction spaces throughout the vertical structure which provide space for relaxed and accessible social interaction whilst allowing for more residential units in the structure.
  • A social lobby envisaged as a large public living room and retail mezzanine level which extends into a plaza around the tower that includes kiosks and a theatre allowing larger public gatherings or general public recreation space.
  • Commercial office rental space that can accommodate a range of small to middle size businesses.
  • A public landmark, which uses the roof of the tower as a gathering and event space and repurposes one of Johannesburg largest electronic billboards into a public notice board broadcasting events and content relevant to its community.

The intention is to create a dense concentration of living, working and social spaces in a tower that radically shifts the status quo on urban living in Johannesburg. The potential of the proposed design solution if replicated in other corporate enclaves within Johannesburg is a renewed balance of live work and play spaces within the city.


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The Growth of Green Building in South Africa

2 days ago
Jolene Blundell, Saint-Gobain’s Head of Sustainability, elaborates on the crucial importance of moving with the times in terms of green building.

Saint-Gobain Gyproc assists clients by providing accurate and objective environmental performance data in the form of externally validated Environmental Product Declarations and Life Cycle Assessments.

Green building and sustainability are words that remain at the forefront of conversations for many South Africans and is a trend that has seen continuous growth within the building and construction industry. Jolene Blundell, Saint-Gobain’s Head of Sustainability, elaborates more on this subject and the crucial importance of moving with the times in terms of green building.

Recent attention around green building has been spurred on by public awareness around environmental issues, explains Blundell. Global warming and recent local climatic events, such as the Cape drought have highlighted the need to limit energy consumption and the waste of natural resources. According to research done on low-carbon development in sub-Saharan Africa, the construction sector is accountable for 56% of energy consumption and a yearly 3.9 tons of CO₂ greenhouse gas emissions per capita1 and as such, it is incumbent upon this category to play a key role in transitioning into a more sustainable society.  Added pressure to increase environmental awareness, continuously rising electricity prices and the introduction of energy efficiency regulations has further driven the development of more energy-efficient buildings in South Africa.

The industry has already seen a number of trends developing in relation to the growing need for greener building techniques. This is evident in the need for companies to be more transparent in terms of the impact that their products have on the environment and people. Customers want to make more informed decisions when it comes to building and construction and to enable this, Saint-Gobain Gyproc assists clients by providing accurate and objective environmental performance data in the form of externally validated Environmental Product Declarations and Life Cycle Assessments.

Another key trend is the increasing adoption of drywall building technologies. Due to its light weight and ease of installation, drywall presents several environmental benefits compared to brick or block wall systems. A third-party lifecycle assessment comparison between plasterboard systems and traditional materials in South Africa has revealed that using drywall systems instead of brick systems on 1m² of partition walls has significant savings potentials: up to 70% in global warming potential, 62% in primary energy use, 86% in wall system weight and 67% in fresh water usage.

But it’s also important to realise that green relates more to just the energy consumption in the traditional sense. On the construction site, the lightweight properties of our solutions (10 times lighter in the case of plasterboard partitions vs. traditional brick) helps to reduce transportation, crane activity and even the depth and material involved in the foundation design. Waste to landfill is reduced by bespoke board sizes to minimise cut-offs and during the design stage, specification teams work with architects and consultants on the building design to minimise waste.

“Green building is making strides within the building and construction industry, but there is still significant potential to reduce the gap as we move towards a society that fully embraces green development.   With a combination of buy-in from big companies, an increase in the use of sustainable interior construction products, more transparency on the environmental impact of products and a drive to reduce construction waste and carbon footprints, things are moving in the right direction,” concludes Blundell.

Reference: Low-carbon development in Sub-Saharan Africa: 20 cross-sector transitions, ODI 2015. Available here:


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Shangaan shop owners chased out of Duduza

4 days 10 hours ago
South Africans not spared in latest xenophobic violence

By Kimberly Mutandiro

Photo of shack
Nkosi Kubheka was renting this shack to a Mozambican immigrant for R1,000 per month, who ran a kiosk from it. But in the wake of xenophobic violence the Mozambican man has left Duduza, leaving the area without a shop and Khubeka out-of-pocket.

After a four-year-old child was found dead and mutilated at Spaarwater Dam in Duduza last week, community members went on the rampage on Sunday. They looted Shangaan shops, blaming them for ritual killings.

For the past week Mozambican and Shangaan shop owners have been targeted daily with community members looting their shops. Some residents protested on the streets against Shangaan people, burning tyres and blocking roads.

But police say there is no evidence supporting the allegations against the Shangaan or foreign shop owners.

Nkosi Kubheka had been renting out a small shack to a Mozambican immigrant who had been using it to operate a tuckshop on his premises. “The death [of the child] has nothing to do with the attacks on the Shangaans. Some community members have been long planning to chase them out after they had dealt with the Somalis.”

“We have been told that the community wants to clean out all of the Shangaans. It is unfortunate because l have been getting a reasonable amount of money from renting the shack out,” he said. Kubheka said his tenant had been paying him a R1,000 monthly.

He said community members had come to his premises in broad daylight on Wednesday. They opened the roof of the tuckshop and cleaned it out.

While he was saddened by the circumstances, he says he was afraid to have a dispute with his community. “Here in Duduza, no one stands in the community’s way. If they say Shangaans must go, they must go. Or else one will die trying to defend them. The sad part is that local people cannot even run businesses. Yet they want to chase out all foreign shop owners.”

Police said the violence had been a result of a culture in the Duduza community of blaming all misfortunes on foreigners (yet many Shangaans are South African).

“We have noted with great concern that some members of the Duduza Community have got a tendency of taking their frustrations out on foreign shop owners by committing certain acts of criminality,“ SAPS spokesperson for Duduza, Captain Harry Manaka said. “We are still investigating the death of the child and have not made any arrests in that regard.”

“However three people are in custody for public violence, malicious damage to property, breaking and entering, and theft following attacks on foreign shop owners. We are also doing our best to keep the situation under control,” he said.

Manaka said police had also rescued a South African man who had been attacked by residents who believed that he was one of the suspects in the child’s murder. Residents also vandalised a police officer’s house, accusing the officer for accepting a bribe and releasing the man.

Most of the the Mozambican and Shangaan shops are closed after the owners ran away fearing for their lives.

A resident who gave his name as Sakile expressed some of the prejudices of his community. “This thing of ritual killings came with the Shangaans. They do it to make muthi for their businesses. If they return to their countries it will stop.”

He continued: “The problem is that our government creates a free environment for these foreigners. They are not afraid to commit crime here in South Africa because our jails have food and beds which they do not find in their home countries. If government worked with us we would soon have them all out of our country.”

Another community member Mduduzi (only first name given) said: “Foreigners come here and use their muthi to open businesses. If they do not kill babies they take our women and impregnate them. They flaunt money and expensive cars in front of our women. Some of them are going around in the latest double cabs and golf cars from this witchcraft. Enough is enough.”

But some Mozambican shop owners said the community members were just jealous of their success. “Us foreigners are hard workers. When the locals see us succeed they become jealous. If they think we use muthi to succeed why do they not also look for the muthi,” said Lucas Cume. “The real muthi for success is hard work.” He had been operating his shop since 2011.

Cumbe says he was attacked while he was offloading stock into his shop on Wednesday. The looters took most of the stock but he managed to escape. He says police told he and other shopkeepers to close their shops while they handled the situation.

John Sibande, who is a South African citizen from Bush Sibande, said residents also took all his stock. Sibande said that community members ill-treated Shangaan people regardless of the fact that some of them are South African citizens.

Resident Themba Mnguni said, ”A Shangaan is a Shangaan. As long as anyone speaks a Krrr Krrr language [foreign language] the community regards them as Shangaans.”

However some people told GroundUp that if the Shangaan shops were closed it would be unfortunate for the community which had now begun to rely on them after Somalis were chased out of Duduza.

Published originally on GroundUp .

© 2018 GroundUp.
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Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and GroundUp, and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.


Canals remain an open sore in Masiphumele Wetlands

4 days 10 hours ago
Residents unhappy with City’s efforts; Provincial government however paints a rosy picture

By Thembela Ntongana

Photo of shacks
Wetlands informal settlement in Masiphumelele is home to approximately 2,500 households. Photo: Rebecca Redelmeier

More than a year after the City of Cape Town was told by the Western Cape government to clean up the wetlands informal settlement in Masiphumelele, home to approximately 2,500 households, residents are unhappy with the lack of progress. The Western Cape government however paints a very different picture.

The first directive by the Western Cape government was issued in January 2017 and a second one in July 2017 by then Provincial Director of Environmental Law Enforcement Dr Eshaam Palmer sent to the City’s Executive Director of Informal Settlements, Water and Waste Management Dr Gisela Kaiser.

The directives stated that City had failed to address issues in Masiphumelele affecting the health and well-being of the residents and polluting the environment and that the City had failed to comply with the National Environmental Management Act. In 2015, GroundUp reported on what it was like to stay in Masiphumelele.

Palmer said the City had failed to provide toilets, ablution and washing facilities, as well as storm water management and proper solid waste services. The province ordered that the City repair all the blocked toilets, provide additional toilets, and dredge the canals every two months. The City was also ordered to provide time frames for clean-up operations, inspections and maintenance of the storm water canals, toilets and standpipes.

Mayoral Committee Member for Informal Settlements Xanthea Limberg said at the time the City had appealed the directive, stating that it was already attending to issues in the community and was doing its best to improve the lives of residents. Limberg said nearly R2 million was spent on new water and sanitation infrastructure in the 2017/18 financial year.

The new Provincial Director of Environmental Law Enforcement Achmad Bassier said the City’s appeal was dismissed, the directive altered, and the department’s “investigation into the matter is still ongoing”.

Bassier said a compliance inspection was conducted on 4 July 2018. “It was evident that there has been a significant improvement at the informal settlement from the previous site inspections … New sewer lines have been installed and rerouted to alleviate blockages, toilets and associated infrastructure have been replaced and at the time of the inspection stormwater channels were being installed in areas where surface water had previously stagnated and/or community members would dispose of their grey water, thereby reducing the pollution on site.”

Bassier said, “The City has constructed two low flow diversion channels at certain stormwater canals to lessen the load of grey water in the canals. This also creates an alternative point for members of the community to dispose of their grey water. The City have created an innovative ablution block complete with showers, toilets and wash basins at one of the canals which would vastly improve the living conditions within the informal settlement.”

However, community leaders are not impressed. “The main issue is the canals … which people have been asking to be closed off. They are still open. The City says they clean them every day. But when you go there, they are dirty. Where is a permanent solution?” asked Masiphumelele community leader Tshepo Moletsana.

The City has built a pilot ablution facility consisting of six toilets and two showers in one section of the informal settlement. It has also put up washing basins, some of which are not yet functional.

These are some of the new toilets built in Masiphumelele informal settlement. They were not yet ready for use when GroundUp last week. Photo: Thembela Ntongana

Currently, the community has 147 toilets and 22 taps. In 2017, the City introduced portable flush toilets, but many residents in the informal settlement rejected these.

Wetlands informal settlement community leader Sithembele Mtshaba, who has been living in the area for 26 years. He said there were not enough taps in the community. “It is just not feasible … The toilets are still not enough.”

Resident Nosihle Mbewu has lived for ten years in a two-room shack with her two children and partner. “I personally do not understand the need for showers that could have been two or more toilets. Who will leave their house and go and take a shower next to the road? … There is no privacy. I’d rather use my tub.”

“Maybe what the City needs is to understand the situation that we live in. I do not know how long that will take, because we have been complaining for years. I am not going past dirty and smelly canals to go take a shower. Why can’t that money be used to close off these things [canals]?” asked Mbewu.

Mayoral Committee Member for Urban Development Brett Herron said short-term litter and night soil were removed from the canals on weekdays. He said the City was “working on a more permanent solution to the canals and improved storm water infrastructure.”

Herron said, “These plans are linked to the introduction of a new road that will provide emergency service access and improved flood protection and storm water infrastructure for this part of Masiphumelele.”

“The Environmental Impact Assessment studies for the proposed road are in the final stages of being completed. Once completed, these will be submitted to the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning and the National Department of Water and Sanitation for the relevant authorisations to permit the construction of the road,” said Herron.

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Parents have to build toilets for Eastern Cape school

4 days 10 hours ago
Learners at schools in Cofimvaba have to relieve themselves outside

By Yamkela Ntshongwana and Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik

Photo of a row of children
Boys from Mvuzo Junior Secondary School in Cofimvaba use old, broken toilets, even though they are dangerous. Photo: Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik

Parents at Sidubi Poort Junior Secondary School in Cofimvaba say they have decided to build toilets for their children because the Eastern Cape Department of Education has been dragging its feet for over seven years. Community members have volunteered to do the work.

The current toilets at the school in Ngxingweni village were built in 1984. There are eight pit latrines for the 208 learners and teachers. Some of the toilets are full and the seats are broken. Children and teachers have to relieve themselves in the bush outside the school premises.

Teachers say the education department first promised to fix the toilets in 2012, but keeps on postponing. “When we first asked for toilets, the teachers’s toilets were still in better condition … [Now] we are also forced to go to those bushes to relieve ourselves,” said a teacher.

A member of the School Governing Body, who did not wish to be named, said, “Teachers are supposed to be well respected people. Then tell me if they relieve themselves in bushes where is their dignity? … We can’t just sit because government is failing our children and teachers.”

“These bushes are far from the school and when learners go to them, they have to go in numbers, at least four of them for safety reasons,” said a teacher.

Unemployment is high in Ngxingweni village and most people survive on social grants, but they have been willing to use the little money they have to assist the school to build toilets.

Parents started collecting money a year ago and have so far raised just under R5,000. It is not enough for new toilets yet, and some of the funds will be used first to fix the pit latrines. Community members have been fetching sand for construction from a river bank a few kilometres away from the school.

Learners at Sidubi Poort Junior Secondary School have to relieve themselves outside. Photo: Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik

At Mvuzo Junior Secondary School in Qamata village, also in Cofimvaba, the education department told teachers to destroy all broken pit toilets. Department officials visited the school and said the toilets, built over 30 years ago, were putting learners’ lives at risk.

However, the department did not say when it was going to build new toilets.

The school has 321 learners from grade R to grade nine. They now relieve themselves at a wall a kilometre away. Teachers were told they have to accompany the learners, but they say they do not have time to do this.

“I’m a male teacher … What are the community members going to say when they see me watching their children relieving themselves? On the other hand, there are learners who are waiting in class for a lesson,” said a teacher. “The challenge we are facing is that when learners go to relieve themselves, they leave the school in groups … We can’t keep our classes in order. And learners are missing lessons.”

“Even if we go in groups, that does not guarantee our safety. There are snakes here and anything can happen. To be honest I’m always scared of going … but we do not have a choice,” said learner Jessica Ngqomo.

She said some boys at the school were still using the destroyed toilets and refusing to go to the bush.

Spokesperson for the department Malibongwe Mtima said the department has close to R2 billion to replace unhealthy and unhygienic pit latrines. Mtima did not respond to questions about the two schools.

Equal Education says the Eastern Cape has over 1,700 schools with pit latrines, the highest number in the country. It said the need to address this crisis cannot be overstated, particularly when taking into account the danger it poses to learners and teachers.

A toilet at Sidubi Poort Junior Secondary School. Photo: Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik

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After mass demolitions land occupiers return to Wallacedene

5 days 14 hours ago
Family that was lawfully living on the land, but pushed out by occupiers, now lives in an Open Kadett.

By Vincent Lali

Photo of a woman and a demolished shack
Nthuseng Mzaci, centre, said she frantically moved her cupboard, TV and dishes when she saw officials arrive. “I quickly took my belongings out before they damage them as they did the last time they came here,” she said. Photo: Vincent Lali

After the City demolished as many as 600 shacks in Wallacedene, Kraaifontein, early last week, by Saturday the land was once again crowded with shacks. The City proceeded again to demolish shacks this week.

Land occupier Bukiwe Bhatyo said, “Law enforcement can shoot me and destroy my building materials, but I will build my shack again and stay here.”

Nthuseng Mzaci said the constant demolitions have affected her two children’s mental health. “My kids [in grade one and five] quickly wake up at night when they hear someone hit a corrugated iron zinc … thinking that the officials are destroying their home,” she said.

Nokulunga Koli quickly dismantled her own shack so that her building material would not get damaged.

Ntombovuyo Jola said she begged officials and started crying. They left her shack alone. She has two young children.

Community leader David Faku said residents rebuilt their shacks because they have nowhere else to go. “We can’t go back to our rented backyard shacks because we are jobless and have no money to pay rent … If the city doesn’t want us to stay here, it must tell us where we must go.”

Faku lives with his four kids, his sister, his wife and his sister-in-law.

“The government says we must use the [social] grant to buy food and clothes for our kids and take them to school. The grant is not meant for paying rent [as backyarders],” said Faku.

After the officials destroyed shacks on Tuesday last week, land occupiers turned their anger on two families from Joostenbergvlakte.

“Residents tore down their fence and houses out of anger. They were outraged and disgusted to watch them stay comfortably while the City destroys their shacks … We hear that the City gave permission to the families to stay here, why can’t it do the same to us?” asked Faku.

On Wednesday, the space where the families relocated by the City from Joostenbergvlakte had been staying was crowded with new shacks.

“We lost everything,” said Jenny Badernhost, one of the Joostenbergvlakte family members. “The NGO that assisted us gave us a bit of food, but we don’t want to stay at the NGO place.”

Badenhorst said she and her family now stay in an Opel Kadett in Kraaifontein.

“We are still shocked, but we will get through this,” she said.

Mayoral Committee Member for Informal Settlements Councillor Xanthea Limberg said: “The City has conducted numerous anti-land invasion operations on this land parcel, given the repeated attempted land invasions over the past months … The City has also obtained an interdict protecting this land parcel from illegal occupation.”

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Residents expelled from Blikkiesdorp amidst racial tensions

5 days 14 hours ago
Over 20 people have sought shelter in the Methodist Church in central Cape Town

By Mary-Anne Gontsana and Ashraf Hendricks

Photo of mother and child in church
Washiela Baeers cleans her six-month-old son Waseem. Baeers has been a resident of Blikkiesdorp for ten years. She is now staying in the Central Methodist Church in Cape Town so that “I can sleep tonight”. Photos: Ashraf Hendricks

Fearing for their lives, at least 22 people have moved from Blikkiesdorp and into the Central Methodist Mission Church in central Cape Town. This includes eight children, the youngest being six months old. Where they go to from here is uncertain.

Eight families were forced to vacate their structures in Blikkiesdorp on Wednesday evening, following threats made to them by other residents. The old Blikkiesdorp Joint Committee (BJC) members claim that there is an ongoing power struggle between black and coloured residents.

The families say they have received numerous threats from members of the newly formed BJC. One threat is that their structures would be burnt down with them inside. This was the push that has got them to leave Blikkiesdorp.

GroundUp watched as residents scrambled trying to find transport and spaces for the safekeeping of their belongings they could not take with. Residents could be seen helping each other move refrigerators and clothes.

Etienne Claasen is a member of the old BJC. He felt compelled to move out of Blikkiesdorp. “This whole thing started about a month and a half ago because of a rumour,” he said. “There has always been a problem of crime here, like house break-ins, people being robbed. There have always been gangsters. But then a rumour started; I don’t know by who, that a coloured gangster raped a black woman. This led to the black residents retaliating and deciding that they would chase out the gangsters themselves, and they came to the conclusion that the gangsters here are coloured.”

Claasen said since then, there have been a lot of violent incidents, including people being beaten up, with many people including himself being targeted.

He says apart from the crime, there was also infighting over the future of the BJC and housing opportunities for residents of Blikkiesdorp.

“I have been a member of the BJC for the past five years. We have worked tirelessly to be part of the Airport Company of South Africa’s (ACSA) Symphony Way Development, which will see Blikkiesdorp residents being moved from here to there. Now, these new people want to come in and take all the credit for our hard work. But that will not happen, otherwise this whole development will not happen. We will not let it. Right now we are being threatened and chased out of our houses because these new BJC members want to bring in their relatives and friends from surrounding areas like Marikana informal settlement to occupy our structures,” said Claasen.

Another resident, Jane Roberts said they were at a loss about what to do. Even the ward councillor and the police were of no help, she claimed. “I live with my daughter and my two grandchildren aged three and ten. I don’t know what is going to happen with us. The police are not always going to be here to check on us and keep us safe.”

Ward councillor for ward 106, Xolani Ndongeni, said he was not aware of the families that had moved out of the area. But he said the conflict arising in Blikkiesdorp was due to housing and crime.

Ndongeni told GroundUp that on Saturday a house was set alight after it was petrol bombed by residents who were looking for an alleged drug dealer. He said 39 residents were displaced due to the fire which damaged other houses.

“As for the housing issue, residents have been waiting ten years to be moved from Blikkiesdorp and there is a new development on the cards from ACSA, but it is still in the planning phase,” he said.

Attempts to contact the people accused of chasing the residents out of Blikkiesdorp have so far been unsuccessful.

Residents try to store their furniture in nearby homes, because they fear it will be stolen after they leave Blikkiesdorp.

Etienne Claasen says that he was threatened and chased out of Blikkiesdorp. He is now staying at the Central Methodist Mission Church in the city centre.

At least 14 adults and eight children spent Wednesday night at the church. How long they will be staying there is unclear.

Rugshana Hartley sits with her six-month-old baby Naifah. Hartley says that staying at the church is “ok”, but “my heart is in Blikkiesdorp”.

Coffee, bread, milk, chocolate and soup have been donated.

Badronessa Morris says that she was threatened so she left Blikkiesdorp. She says she was told that if she didn’t leave her home, it would be burnt down.

A child passes the time drawing in the church.

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Wallacedene shack dwellers close down housing project

6 days 20 hours ago
City of Cape Town says project should not target one specific community only

By Vincent Lali

Photo of protesters
Wallacedene residents are demanding to be prioritised for a housing project. Photo: Vincent Lali

Dozens of angry shack dwellers who live in a Temporary Relocation Area (TRA) in Wallacedene marched to Kraaifontein police station to deliver a memorandum of demands to the City of Cape Town on Monday. Community leader Thembelani Mzola handed over a memorandum to Acting Subcouncil Two Manager Amelia van Rhyn. Marchers toyi-toyied and held placards that read: “We want houses” and “We want answers today or no Maroela Project”.

According to Mayoral Committee Member for Urban Development, Councillor Brett Herron, the Maroela housing project is a breaking new ground (BNG) state-subsidised housing project for beneficiaries registered on the City’s housing database.

But the protesters want the Maroela project exclusively for residents of TRA informal settlement.

Herron said about 20% of the houses will be allocated to people from other areas who have been on the City’s housing database the longest. “The Maroela Housing project is not intended to benefit one specific community or group. Instead, the purpose of this project is to accommodate as many beneficiaries as possible who have been registered on the City’s housing database.”

Construction on the Maroela housing project started on 27 September but was forced to stop on 1 October by the shack dwellers.

“If the City ignores our demand, we will shut down the project for good,” said Mzola.

“We want the housing project to cater only for residents of TRA because they have been waiting for houses for too long … We don’t want residents from outside Wallacedene to get houses from the project,” said Mzola.

“We live under inhumane conditions,” he said. “Some residents settled in the TRA about 13 years ago and the City told them that they would be moved to somewhere dry, but they are still staying in waterlogged shacks.”

He said a dozen shack dwellers shared a toilet and the City had not cleaned the toilets for almost a year.

Chairperson of Wallacedene policing forum Mawethu Sila said, “As long as the City doesn’t involve the shack dwellers in decision making, they will protest … The City must first deal with the overcrowding before it brings people from outside.”

But Herron said, “The project steering committee for the Maroela housing project was [democratically] elected at two public meetings held on 8 December 2015 and 30 June 2016.”

Receiving the memorandum, Van Rhyn said the project steering committee and project officials would discuss the shack dwellers’ demands.

Herron said, “We cannot allow a situation where certain residents get access to housing opportunities at the cost of those who have been waiting for years for the very same housing opportunity.”

“The purpose of the City’s housing database is to ensure that housing opportunities are made available in a fair, transparent, systematic, and equitable manner, and in accordance with our housing allocation policy to ensure that no one jumps the queue.

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Accra's informal settlements are easing the city's urban housing crisis

1 week 2 days ago
Accra's sprawling slums. Nataly Reinch/Shutterstock

Informal settlements continue to remain a significant component of many cities in the developing world. UN Habitat describes them as lacking security of tenure, not having durable housing and short of basic services. Globally, almost one billion people are hosted in informal settlements. This is expected to increase to 1.5 billion by 2020.

In sub-Sharan Africa, about 60% of all urban residents reside in slums and their level of deprivation is considered to be comparatively severe. In view of the recent urbanisation trends on the continent, much of the projected urban population growth is expected to be absorbed by slums.

In spite of this reality, slum dwellers continue to be marginalised, brutalised by the state and forcefully evicted. They are also frequent victims of demolitions and displacements. However, slums are critical for the future wellbeing of many urban residents across the continent because they provide a refuge.

This is true in Accra where close to half of the city’s population live in informal settlements.

In this article, we shed light on the broader dynamics of urban housing, and the rental regime that has pushed many people into the informal settlements. We argue that slums are more than just marginalised spaces of abject poverty and neglect.

Accra’s housing crisis

Housing in Accra is something of a paradox: a boom in supply for the wealthy, and scarcity for those at the lower ends of the income strata.

According to the Ghana Housing Profile, 60% of all urban households in Ghana occupy single rooms. Only 25% of households own a house. The remainder either rent or live rent-free in a family house. Urban housing is also regarded as very expensive.

Because of a lack of affordable, decent and secure shelter for the low-income population it’s generally accepted that there’s a housing crisis in the Ghanaian capital. This crisis was instigated by the withdrawal of the state as an active provider of housing.

The state withdrew following the adoption of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s structural adjustment programs introduced in the 1980s. At that point market-led policy became the mainstay in housing provision. The private rental housing market was commercialised resulting in a boom in profit-driven housing production that targetted high-income residents.

Exclusive apartments, gated communities and high-end residential units mushroomed across the poorly controlled housing landscape.

Thanks to rising land prices, a decline in the access to land, and a lack of access to housing finance, many low-income and lower-middle class workers are pushed out of the housing market.

This has pushed most of them to rely on the informal rental sector. There, landlords exploit the vulnerability of the their tenants often demanding several years of rent in advance.

Can upgrading slums help solve the crisis?

About 45% of Accra residents live in some form of slum housing. These areas are overcrowded, have limited access to piped water and poor sanitation facilities. But this is only part of the picture. Slum housing means more to local residents than the stereotypical depictions of deprivation and poverty.

Urban slums like Old Fadama allow many people to escape the near homelessness that Accra’s housing crises creates.

Old Fadama is the largest informal settlement in the city of Accra. In media and political circles it is often cast as dystopian. But for many it’s the one of the few places they can be assured of access to cheap and alternative housing while still remaining close to core services in the city of Accra.

This informal settlement sits on public land that was initially acquired by the Government of Ghana for the Korle Lagoon Ecological Restoration Project. The project was abandoned and the land remained undeveloped until the 1980s when the informal settlement began.

Since then the population has grown substantially. Between 2004 and 2007, for instance, the population doubled from 24,000 to 48,000. The most recent data suggests that nearly 80 000 people now live in the area.

This exponential growth can be attributed to the fact that Old Fadama provides cheap, centrally located housing. Moreover, not all housing is substandard. Relatively better-quality houses can be found in unplanned areas at more affordable prices than other areas in Accra.

This is borne out by the fact that Old Fadama doesn’t only house the informal poor. A recent study suggested that about 15% are formal sector employees.

Old Fadama is an entry point to basic housing for those in both low-paid formal and informal employment. For many in this slum, access to cheap housing in the city’s economic heartland has made it possible to capitalise on their capabilities, and enabled them to try and move out of poverty.

Policy and project experimentation

There’s an urgent need for targeted interventions around slum housing in Accra. Fortunately, the 2015 National Housing Policy, and the newly established Ministry for Inner City and Zongo Development, are good starting points. Both emphasise support for the urban poor and low-income housing.

Additionally, civil society groups are experimenting with collective self-help housing– such as the Amui Dzor Housing and Infrastructure Project implemented by the Ghana federation of the urban poor in collaboration with the government and UN Habitat– for low-income groups. In view of this, we suggest that there is a need to combine policy support with project experimentation for house improvement in urban slums.

This should be considered as part of a housing program that involves state leadership in providing ‘real’ affordable housing. There is also a need to provide funds for social housing, enforce regulation of the rental market, and support the informal housing sector. This would add up to a solid commitment towards every citizen’s right to decent, secure and affordable housing.

The Conversation

Seth Asare Okyere is part of a collaborative research team that receives funding from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) for urban socio-spatial studies and action research in Accra, Ghana.

Jerry Chati Tasantab is affiliated with the University of Newcastle. He receives the University of Newcastle International Postgraduate Research Scholarships (UNIPRS) and University of Newcastle Postgraduate Research Scholarship (UNRS External) for his PhD in Building since 2017.

Matthew Abunyewah receives funding for his PhD in Disaster Management from the University of Newcastle International Postgraduate Research Scholarships since 2015.

Lottery money goes to waste as school falls apart

1 week 4 days ago
R28.3 million handed over to a boxing promoter with no experience in construction

By Kaizer Nengovhela and Raymond Joseph

5 October 2018

Photo of plaque
This plaque was unveiled during Vhafamadi High School’s official opening in December 2016. The shoddy workmanship is clear from this photo, including the fact that the plaque has not even been cemented permanently in place almost two years later. Photo: Raymond Joseph

A school in Vuwani in Limpopo that was rebuilt less than two years ago with a R28.3 million Lotto grant is falling apart because of structural problems.

Nineteen months after the school was opened with great fanfare, parts of the buildings are unsafe to use as they have developed cracks and other serious structural problems.

At least a third of the new classrooms and parts of the administration centre have been cordoned off with tape to block access to unsafe areas. Makeshift lintels supported by wooden poles have been erected to support parts of buildings that are in danger of collapsing.

Sections of walls in front of some new classrooms at Vhafamadi High School have had to be propped up because of structural problems caused by poor workmanship. Photo: Raymond Joseph

Cement is falling out between bricks and many of the classrooms have developed cracks in their walls. Students say they feel unsafe and some are experiencing respiratory problems because of dust from the walls and ceilings in some classrooms still in use.

Questions are now being asked as to why a non-profit organisation, run by a Limpopo boxing promoter with no experience or track record in the building or construction industry, was chosen as a recipient to handle the multimillion-rand grant.

It also appears that the National Lotteries Commission failed to do proper due diligence when boxing promoter Azwindini Simba was appointed to oversee the multimillion-rand project and during the building of the school.

The official handover of the new Vhafamadi High School took place in December 2016. Dignitaries at the handover included Ishmael Kgetjepe, Limpopo’s Education MEC, and Lottery Chairperson Alfred Nevhutanda. Traditional leaders, community members and learners also attended.

The school was destroyed in a fire during violent protest actions the year before. The violence, which began in 2015 and continued into 2016, left about 30 schools totally or partly destroyed, affecting more than 50,000 learners. The protests were against the incorporation of several municipalities into the new Collins Chabane municipality.

The multimillion-rand Lottery grant was used to construct 20 new classrooms, a library, a computer lab, a science laboratory, a kitchen and a school hall at Vhafamadi High, according to the 2017-2018 Annual Performance Plan of the National Lotteries Commission (NLC).

Who received the money?

In a press release after the school’s official opening, the NLC said that it had been approached with a request to help fund the rebuilding of the school. The assistance was approved in terms of the Commission’s “proactive funding” model. This allows the Board to identify needs in communities and allocate funding to address them.

The funds to rebuild the school were channelled through the Simba Community Develop Foundation (SCDF), an NPO run by Simba.

Though he had no experience in the building industry or in handling big projects, the NLC appointed Simba as the “implementing agent” responsible for hiring contractors and overseeing the “flagship” project. This was in spite of the fact that his NPO is non-compliant in its reporting to the Department of Social Development, according to the records held by the NPO Directorate.

Documents made available by the department show that SCDF was issued with “non-compliance notices” in 2015 and again in 2016 after it failed to submit financial statements and to meet other statutory reporting criteria. The foundation was warned in 2015 and again in 2016 that failure to submit the necessary documentation and rectify some issues would result in its deregistration.

But though the foundation did not comply with these warnings, its registration was never cancelled, thanks to a moratorium on removing non-compliant NPOs implemented in 2015 by then Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini and still in force. As a result, an unknown number of non-compliant NPOs such as the SCDF, which would have been deregistered were it not for the moratorium, are still included on the department’s register of NPOs. Some of these NPOs have received funding from the National Lotteries Commission.

The old Vhafamadi High School that was destroyed by fire during protests that swept through the Vuwani area of Limpopo in 2015 and 2016. Photo: Raymond Joseph

Finding the builder

The Commission is, at the best of times, not the most transparent of institutions. It routinely refuses to make specific requested information and documentation available about funded projects and the organisations involved in them. When members of the media have resorted to requesting the information under the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) legislation, these requests have often been denied by the Lotteries Commission for various reasons, including the need to protect the privacy of people involved in Lottery-funded projects.

During our investigation into the school-building project, information about SCDF was obtained via the records filed at the NPO Directorate.

Contacted for comment, Azwindini Simba said he had no knowledge about the construction work done at the school. “I know nothing about what is going on at the school. My only role was to produce the [NPO] document for that project to assist them to get funding from the Lottery. I know nothing else … I know nothing about any problems at the school. The only time I visited the school was when I attended the opening. I never went there at all while it was being built.”

Simba said a committee had been elected to oversee the project and to appoint contractors to oversee the building of the school. He declined to name the company that built the school. Instead, he referred inquiries to a man he would only identify as “Tshisimba”, who he said was “directly involved” and had attended meetings with the National Lotteries Commission to discuss the problems at the school.

In a brief telephonic interview, “Tshisimba” - who claimed his name was actually “Simba” – said: “Are you sure there is a problem at the school?”

When he was told that reporters had visited the school and had also taken photos of the damage, he changed tack and said: “The Lottery did not fund the parts where there are problems”. He said there had been insufficient funds to build the school and “our company funded parts of it.” Told that the Lotteries Commission had claimed to be the sole funder of the project, “Tshisimba” said: “The Lottery has not given you the right information.”

The National Lotteries Commission said it was “unaware” of any other “funding or funders” involved in the project.

“Tshisimba” said that the company that built the school would only comment at a face-to-face meeting at their offices in Johannesburg. Later he said that “my MD will call you” but refused to name the company or the managing director and would not supply phone numbers for either. Pressed further, he abruptly hung up.

A while later, “Tshisimba” called back to say, “the MD will call you” and hung up again when questioned further. The “MD” never called and SMSs to “Tshisimba” went unanswered.

Azwindini Simba, whose NPO was used to apply for a multi-million rand Lottery grant to build the new school. Photo supplied by Limpopo Mirror

Lotteries Commission is aware of the problems

But the National Lotteries Commission denied that Simba was merely used as a conduit to channel money to other organisations. The legal executive manager of the Commission, Tsietsi Maselwa, said that Simba was “the beneficiary” and was responsible for appointing contractors for the construction of the school. “In terms of the Lotteries Commission funding regulations, only non-profit organisations can be funded, and the subsequent contracting of companies becomes the responsibility of the funded NPO, and therefore the money could not have been paid directly to the contractor/company that would have been engaged in the work,” he said.

Tsietsi confirmed that the Lotteries Commission was aware of problems at the school. “The NLC … subsequently appointed an engineering company which has assessed the extent of the challenges and compiled a report for consideration by the NLC. Upon assessment of the report, the NLC has engaged the implementing agent and outlined corrective measures to be implemented. The NLC is currently undertaking monitoring and evaluation processes in line with its funding policies.”

But Simba said that while he was aware that a meeting had been held at the school with representatives of the Commission, he had not attended it and was unaware of the discussions that had taken place. He had also not been contacted by the Commission.

This is not the first time that the Lotteries Commission has been questioned about implementing proper monitoring systems.

Earlier this year, chief financial officer Philemon Letwaba, in response to queries about another Lottery funded project, explained that the Commission did not get involved in the implementation of funded projects. “However, we provide any support necessary to ensure that the beneficiary is well capacitated to deliver on the project; this is required by the regulations and the Act. It is the responsibility of the NPO to ensure the appointment of adequately competent service providers to ensure the quality of the work meets the standards. [The] NLC has a team of engineers who give reports on the quality of the work done on all our infrastructure-funded projects. The NLC has monitoring and evaluation which monitor the implementation of such projects.”

Official opening of the new school in December 2016 (from left to right): Vhafamadi High School principal Mashau Thenga, Chief Livhuwani Matsila, traditional leader ThoveleVho-Thavha, National Lottery Commission Chairman Alfred Nevhutanda, Deputy Minister Obed Bapela and MEC Ishmael Kgetjepe. Photo supplied by Limpopo Mirror

“It can collapse at any time”

Parents and learners are concerned that the school “could collapse at any time”. They blame poor work by contractors and say the damage must be properly repaired. Learners complain that dust from the cracks often falls on them in some classrooms which are still in use.

Parents say they have pleaded with the Department of Education to fix the school, but their appeals have fallen on deaf ears.

Parent Mercy Mugovhani said parents were worried about the safety of their children. “There was no greater joy for the parents than witnessing the construction of the new school building in 2016, but now it’s a nightmare.”

Mugovhani said she was “disappointed” that, even though the school had received more than R28-million from the Lottery, the contractors had done a shoddy job. “We had hoped our school would be rebuilt properly. We’re not saying we want a new school, but we would be happy if they fix the cracks and renovate the buildings,” she said. “We fear for the safety of the learners because the buildings could collapse on top of them. We are also worried because the conditions at school are not conducive to learning. In some classes, there are walls that are cracked and could collapse at any time. This disturbs the learners, especially when it is rainy.”

A teacher at the school, who asked to remain anonymous, said the crumbling infrastructure was a barrier to teaching and learning. “On rainy days we can hardly teach because the learners cannot focus,” he said.

A learner, who also asked to remain anonymous, said cracks had developed in the new toilet block. “We go to the toilets in groups because it’s so dangerous”.

Provincial education spokesperson Sam Makondo said that the department was engaging with different structures to try and resolve the issue.

Local traditional leader Thovhele Vho-Thavha Mashau said he had received a report from community members about the problems at the school. He said that the school or school governing body should report such problems to him, in his capacity as the traditional leader of the community. He said that he would visit the school himself to find out what was happening, adding that learners must be taught in a healthy environment with safe classrooms.

Mashau-Magweni Civic Association’s secretary Polinah Malemela said that the association had not received any reports about problems at the school. She said that if the classes were damaged, the contractor must rebuild the school, “because he is the one who built it and was paid”.

This article was co-published with the Limpopo Mirror.

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Banks are clogging up the justice system, says court

1 week 5 days ago
Pretoria High Court orders banks to use magistrates’ courts when acting against debtors

By Ciaran Ryan

Photo of bank
Banks seeking judgment against borrowers should use the magistrates’ courts, the Pretoria High Court has ruled. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

A full bench of the Pretoria High Court ruled last week that magistrates’ courts should be the first port of call for banks seeking judgment against their clients. On Wednesday we explained the arguments in the case that dealt with access to justice for distressed debtors. But another important part of the case was how these applications to the court by banks have clogged up the high courts.

The Pretoria High Court judges said the number of new cases coming before the Pretoria High Court had increased to nearly 100,000 in 2016 from 74,000 in 2012. In the Johannesburg High Court the case load is more stable, increasing to nearly 50,000 in 2017 from about 48,000 in 2012.

The two courts had about the same number of judges: 40 permanent judges and 23 acting judges in Pretoria, and 38 permanent judges and 24 acting judges in Johannesburg. Judges sat in court almost every day and were forced to write judgments after hours or on weekends, the judges said.

“This results in inordinate delays in delivering judgments. Obviously this is an untenable situation that needs to be addressed in the interests of justice,” reads the Pretoria High Court judgment.

They said judges were also taking longer in trial preparation due to changes to court rules allowing for reserve prices to be set in cases where repossessed homes are sold at auction. All this resulted in delays of four to five months for cases to be heard. The problem was aggravated by banks bringing cases before the high court which should properly be heard in the magistrates’ courts.

The judgment says it becomes untenable for a single judge to hear 80 unopposed matters (where the defendants put up no opposition) in a day. This has now been limited to 60 matters per judge per day.

The tendency of banks to launch proceedings in the high courts poses a threat on two levels, says the judgment: it affects the right of access to justice for poor litigants, and places an unsustainable burden on the courts.

The judgment summarises the reasons why banks approach the high courts for relatively trifling amounts:

  • There are long delays in the magistrates’ courts, and banks have problems securing hearing dates.
  • There is a lack of uniformity in the granting of orders in magistrates’ courts.
  • Unnecessary queries are raised by debtors.
  • Magistrates are reluctant to declare that properties can be sold at auction by the bank to recover debts.
  • Attachment orders issued by magistrates’ courts lapse after a year, while in high courts they do not lapse. (An attachment order means the banks can take possession of a house or car being paid off, if the client defaults on loan repayments.)
  • Motor vehicles depreciate rapidly, and banks need swift and effective action.
  • It is not always cheaper to litigate in the magistrates’ courts.

In its court papers, Absa argued that the Superior Courts Act says that where two or more courts have concurrent jurisdiction, the bank should not be limited to accessing any one of those courts. But the Pretoria High Court saw it differently, arguing that the primary constitutional right is not to gain access to a particular court, but to a fair hearing before “a court” or other independent tribunal.

Paragraph 81 of the judgment criticises the banks for hauling matters before the high court when they should be heard in the lower court. “Lamenting about perceived inefficiency of the magistrates’ courts does not constitute a valid reason to approach the high court as the court of first instance. The inefficiency, if it exists, must be addressed on another level. The banks must also adjust their thinking.”

This is the second of two articles on this case.

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Overflowing sewage, no electricity, one tap and two toilets for over 300 residents

1 week 6 days ago
Residents of Duncan Village blame councillor

By Chris Gilili

Photo of a street with shacks
Residents of C Section in Duncan Village, East London, say they live in squalor. Photo: Chris Gilili

Shack dwellers in Duncan Village, East London, accuse their councillor of doing nothing about overflowing sewage in their area. In turn she has accused residents of vandalising the toilets. “Residents must learn to take care of their own sanitation system,” she says.

Area 15 in C Section is home to nearly 300 people living in shacks. They share one tap and two functioning toilets. They have no electricity.

Resident Bongani Kweya said, “The dirty water from this drain goes all the way down and stops by my shack. I even tried to dig a trench for it to flow… The whole area here stinks … We really cannot bear the smell.”

Sinazo Khalimashe said, “The smell gets worse every day. Sometimes I sleep at my friend’s place to avoid being around this. You see human waste flowing with the dirty water. I have reported this to the councillor and she keeps on promising that something will be done about it, but it never happens.”

Resident and ward committee member Mpana Ngemntu said there had been no electricity since 2014 when the electricity supply box was damaged in a fire. A new box had been brought but had not been connected.”It is not working and just an ornament.”

“Our ward councillor lives very close, in Toilet City, but her house has a functional sewerage system. She appears as someone who doesn’t care about us … We have written her several letters asking her to community meetings but she has never bothered coming,” said Ngemntu.

Ward 2 councillor Ntombizandile Mhlola denied the claims made by residents. “Those are just people who do not want to see me as a councillor in this area. I have a lot of areas to look after within the metro. I cannot really focus on one area. I also inherited some of the issues here from the previous councillor.”

Mhlola said, “Littering and vandalism propagated by residents sometimes contributes to the problem of blocked drains. Sometimes people dump things that do not belong in drains. They dump used diapers and bones, which make the drains get clogged. Residents must learn to take care of their own sanitation system. ”

Mkhuseli Nongogo, Engineering and Sanitation Programmes Manager for the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality, said, “The municipality will look into the drain issue this financial year. However, it is the people’s duty to take care of drains by looking at what they dump [in them].”

“As the municipality we will make sure we follow up on this as soon as possible. That is all I can say.”

Published originally on GroundUp .

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At least 15 injured as violence erupts in Westbury

2 weeks ago
Residents throw petrol bombs during protest, police fire rubber bullets

By Zoë Postman

Photo of burning tyres in street
Residents of Westbury in Johannesburg, were in a standoff with police on Monday morning. The residents were protesting about crime and lack of policing in the area. Photo: Zoe Postman

At least 15 people were wounded by police rubber bullets as violence erupted on Monday in Westbury in Johannesburg.

Hundreds of residents were protesting against crime and lack of policing in the area.

The protests started on Friday morning after a woman and a girl were caught in crossfire between three men the previous day. The woman was shot dead and the girl was injured. Two suspects have been arrested.

On Monday angry residents used burning tyres, rubbish and rocks to block the roads. Some residents threw petrol bombs at the police. The police retaliated by firing rubber bullets and teargas. Police officers were seen shooting into people’s homes as the residents ran for cover. GroundUp saw at least 15 people with rubber bullet wounds, some of them in the face. The injured were mostly men. A few teenagers were also injured. One man was shot twice in the forehead. The police picked him up in a Nyala to take him to an emergency service.

Westbury resident Dominic Louw told GroundUp that shootings in the area were usually between drug dealers fighting for their territories.

He said residents had decided to protest again on Monday because another man had been shot in the early hours of Monday morning in spite of police presence in the area.

“We are here today to claim our Westbury back and make sure this never happens again,” he said.

Adrian Marillier, one of the elders in the community, called on the Gauteng Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Community Safety, Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane, and President Cyril Ramaphosa to address the community and offer solutions to the violence.

“We are asking them to come here and help us. It cannot go on like this … If they don’t, this protest will escalate and continue indefinitely. We are not threatening, but we are in the centre of Johannesburg and we will take it further than this and the violence will escalate,” he said.

The residents marched to Sophiatown police station where they were addressed by Gauteng provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Deliwe de Lange.

Commissioner de Lange told the community that she had ordered the police to stop shooting at residents. She urged everyone who had been injured during the protest to open a case at Sophiatown police station.

De Lange also promised residents that the other two suspects involved in Thursday’s shooting would be arrested by the end of the day. (At the time of publication we are unable to explain the apparent discrepancy that three men were involved in the shooting, two have been arrested and yet two more, as opposed to one more, are expected to be arrested.)

MEC Nkosi-Malobane is expected to visit the area on Tuesday.

Published originally on GroundUp .

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It's time to stop the appropriation of South Africa's visual archive

2 weeks 1 day ago
Graeme Williams's photograph he took in Thokoza township, near Johannesburg, in 1991. Police watch an ANC rally. Graeme Williams

In an interview published in the New York Times, American visual artist Hank Willis Thomas describes his work as “collaborative storytelling”. He routinely uses archival images in his work, sometimes making only minor changes to the existing image. This method has sparked a controversy about whether his practice should instead be understood as appropriation.

Thomas has produced a large body of work that focuses on South African history. Much of it draws directly on images taken by South African photographers. Graeme Williams iconic image, “South Africa, Thokoza Township, Johannesburg, 1991, Police watch an ANC rally while children taunt them by toyi-toying on the other side of the fence”, is at the centre of a storm provoked by Thomas’s decision to use it in an artwork.

Photo taken at the Joburg Art Fair of Hank Willis Thomas’s version of Williams’s colour original. Graeme Williams

Thomas’s piece was exhibited by the Goodman Gallery at the recent Joburg Art Fair and priced at USD$36 000. His “collaboration” with Williams took place without the photographer’s consent. He didn’t acknowledge the source of the image; nor did he intend to share the profits from the sale of the work.

For the most part artists and the art world scoff at the notion of responsibility, the need to ask permission, or any kinds of considerations that would delimit creative freedom.

However, Thomas is ostensibly a different kind of artist. His work has centred on issues of race and social justice. In 2016, he and Eric Gottesman founded For Freedoms, an artist-run super Political Action Committee. It has produced and installed 50 billboards in 50 states to contest the current political regime in the US.

Thomas is profoundly critical of extractive economies that take black people’s bodies and lives, using them for commercial gain without ever recognising them as individuals.

Much, if not most, of Thomas’s work is indebted to the photographers from whose archives he derives not only his inspiration, but also the raw material for his art. His failure to give proper credit comes off as arrogant and hypocritical.

The story of Ernest Cole

In the abstract, the collective work of photographers who produced the visual archive of life under apartheid could be understood as “collaborative storytelling”. But the photographs that constitute this archive were taken by individual photographers, many of whom remain unrecognised.

Ernest Cole is one example. He was born in 1940 in Eersterust, a township near Pretoria. In 1958, he joined the staff of Drum Magazine and went on to produce brilliant and painful photographs of life under apartheid.

In 1966, he went into exile and spent the next 20 years moving between the US and Europe, where he continued to work as a photographer. His book, House of Bondage (1967) was a landmark publication. It was the first book by a black South African photographer to document everyday life under apartheid.

The book contains almost 200 black and white photographs that Cole took in townships, city streets and mining compounds – and in prisons, where he used a hidden camera. One of Thomas’s most effective and chilling works is his sculptural rendition of Cole’s image of a long row of naked miners, their arms raised above their heads, photographed during a medical inspection at a mining compound.

Thomas’s reworking of the photograph shows only the heads and arms of the miners. The remainder of their bodies have been swallowed up by the white wall-like structure within which they are embedded. This work can be read as a critique of racial capitalism and of the ways in which black people’s bodies are consumed by the violence of white supremacy.

However, this and other readings of the work are possible only because I recognise the image it draws from, and to some degree replicates. Its power derives from the connection between the sculpture and the photograph.

It cannot be assumed that Cole’s photograph, which many people consider an iconic image of the structural violence of the apartheid state, will be recognised by everyone who views it. Nor will most viewers know where it was taken or who the photographer was, without a caption to provide this detail. It is even less likely to be recognised given that the photograph, which provides the conceptual ground for Thomas’s work, is effectively submerged within the sculpture.

As art historian Kerr Houston notes in his review of “History Doesn’t Laugh”, Thomas’s 2014 solo show at the Goodman Gallery,

His decision to focus on gestures apparently led him to jettison much of the rest of the original photographs – and the resulting loss is considerable. Cole’s photograph of the miners, for instance, pictures a row of papers that stand behind each man – and that implicitly complete their dehumanisation, converting them into mere data in the larger ledger of labour.

Thomas’s work, titled “Raise Up”, omits Cole’s original caption, “During group medical examination the nude men are herded through a string of doctor’s offices”. Cole himself was extremely anxious that his images be viewed in context; he preferred the photo essay form to the single image.

Racial capitalism

The debate about the right to make use of already existing images has drawn attention to the significance and value of South Africa’s photographic heritage.

It also casts light on just how difficult it is to critique globalised racial capitalism from within the art market, itself a system that serves to replicate the inequalities Thomas is seeking to contest through his work.

Acknowledging the source of the images he uses in his work more fully would amplify rather than diminish the power of Thomas’s political art. Understanding the context in which an image was made is critical for interpreting its significance. And, by engaging with the photographers, requesting permission to use of their work, and sharing the financial rewards and accolades this truly collaborative work would attract, artists like Thomas could begin the process of honouring South African photographers’ legacies.

The Conversation

Kylie Thomas receives research funding from the National Research Foundation, South Africa, and the British Academy's programme for International Visiting Researchers. All views expressed in this piece are her own.

De Lille requests investigation into Foreshore property sale

2 weeks 1 day ago
Site appears to have been sold by the City of Cape Town for much less than it was worth

By GroundUp Staff

Site B is currently a parking lot on the Foreshore, as shown in the above image captured from <a href=",18.4237725,212m/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en-ZA">Google Maps</a>.

Mayor Patricia de Lille has requested an investigation into the sale of City-owned land on Cape Town’s Foreshore.

GroundUp previously reported that the City appeared to have sold Site B to property developer Growthpoint for less than its market value (see here and here). According to a calculation based on the size of the development that Growthpoint intends to build on Site B, the plot is worth up to R227 million, and not the R86.5 million at which it was sold. The difference relates to the maximum combined floor area that a high rise building on the site may occupy. Auction documents incorrectly stated that the maximum floor area was 17,500m2, when in fact it was 46,000m2. (This is a slight simplification. Interested readers can read the original article for the details.)

The apparent error was discovered by the housing activist organisation Ndifuna Ukwazi, which has been monitoring and contesting some city centre property sales.

“Following a barrage of media reports … I discussed the matter with the City Manager, Lungelo Mbandazayo, and this week wrote to him to request that he initiates a forensic investigation into what exactly transpired throughout this sale process,” De Lille wrote in a statement released by her office on Sunday.

De Lille wrote: “The erf, also known as Site B on the Foreshore, was sold to Growthpoint Properties through an auction for an amount of R86,5 million. There are allegations that the land was severely undervalued and that this resulted in a loss of R58 million.” (GroundUp’s calculation is that the potential loss is about R140 million.)

“[T]he City could also run the risk of an audit query from the Auditor General or … a member of the public reporting the matter to the Public Protector,” De Lille wrote.

Ndifuna Ukwazi welcomed an investigation. “It must be swift, the results must be made public, and those officials and politicians who are responsible must be held accountable,” the organisation wrote in response to De Lille’s announcement.

Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson was the Mayoral Committee Member for Finance at the time of the sale in September 2016. Ndifuna Ukwazi has held him responsible for the error. As reported previously, Neilson disputed that the City made a mistake. He said additional rights for developing a larger floor area on Site B were potentially available, but that Growthpoint “would have to purchase [those rights] from the City in terms of the Municipal Asset Transfer Regulations”.

Ndifuna Ukwazi said the City cannot currently buy and sell develpoment rights on properties. If the City had such rights, it “would fundamentally change the land and property regime as we know it in South Africa.” The organisation said this would be welcome, and is done in cities in other countries. “[B]ut it would seem this is not supported by the current policy and legislative framework.”

De Lille is stepping down as mayor on 31 October, following the resolution of a long conflict between her and the ruling DA. In May, Neilson briefly took over from her as acting mayor after the DA dismissed her. But she successfully overturned the decision in court.

Published originally on GroundUp .

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AECOM Helps Develop Richest Square Mile in Africa in Sandton

2 weeks 1 day ago
AECOM has been involved in many flagship Sandton projects

Flagship projects for AECOM In Sandton include 129 Rivonia Road, known as The Marc, where it is providing full cost-management services for this mixed-use development.

Integrated infrastructure delivery company AECOM has played an important role in the development of Sandton in Johannesburg, touted as one of Africa’s richest square miles, and characterised by continuous growth.

Flagship projects for AECOM here have been 129 Rivonia Road, known as The Marc, where it is providing full cost-management services for this mixed-use development, and the Old Mutual Head Office, where it is overseeing the quantity surveying for the 110 000 m2 basement parking, as well as the key Sandton Gautrain Station. AECOM is currently also providing quantity surveying services for the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system on Katherine Street in Sandton.

Developed by the Eris Property Group, The Marc is located at the old Village Walk Shopping Centre site on the south-western corner of Rivonia Road and Maude Street. It comprises two high-rise office towers of 13 and 18-storeys (27 000 m2 and 35 000 m2 respectively). Tower 1 will have a 4 Green Star Built and Design rating, while Tower 2 will have a 5 Green Star rating.

The demand for offices in South Africa is currently at its highest level post-democracy, as confirmed by JHI Properties in its South African Property Review and SAMCO Report 2017, points out Shevira Bissessor, Director, Commercial Sector, Buildings + Places, AECOM.

“While the retail market has also shown growth, we anticipate a decline in major malls being built. However, there is a significant need for neighbourhood centres and regional convenience centres. The future of the retail space is driven by the digital era, with most consumers looking for convenience with on-line shopping, which is envisaged to increase, and which will result in an increase for data centres and warehouses to support this,” Bissessor comments.

Sandton remains one of the most affluent areas in Johannesburg, and one of the most significant financial and business districts, which adds to its timeless appeal as the ultimate address for every corporate. “It’s a great place that has spelt out the ‘live, work, and play’ concept aggressively,” Bissessor notes.

What contributes to the ongoing success of an area like Sandton? In a lecture on feasibility as part of the Graduate School of Business’s Property Development Programme, Bissessor referred to Sandton as a textbook example highlighting advanced economic growth and clear return on investment. Added to this, with recoverability being high on the agenda in measuring feasibility, multinational brands continue to invest in this space.

“Any successful property development thrives on a combination of the professional team’s attitude, experience, instinct, and lessons learnt from both victories and challenges. Commercial property development can be very exciting. However, maintaining focus, thinking creatively, and always remaining one step ahead are vital to the success of any project,” Bissessor elaborates.

It is also important to choose the right expertise and skills to bring your vision alive as a developer. One of the key drivers in this regard is to ensure you create the correct concept, which means self-virtualisation to simulate and articulate it.

“You need to take into consideration the future of buildings and infrastructure developments by keeping up to date with innovation, technology, and ‘smart’ buildings and cities, while embracing the digital era, and placing all this high on your agenda, along with sustainable buildings and environmental concerns,” Bissessor explains.

“This will ensure a well-rounded development that can be ready to go live in the future. You have to choose the right company that can offer you this, meaning a company like AECOM that can help make your dream a reality by offering the correct capabilities and qualities, which are all crucial to your future success,” she concludes.


The post AECOM HELPS DEVELOP RICHEST SQUARE MILE IN AFRICA IN SANDTON appeared first on Leading Architecture & Design.

Land reform debate: what's missing according to South African farmers

2 weeks 6 days ago
Land is a contentious and emotive issue. Jon Hrusa/EPA

Land reform remains one of South Africa’s most pressing unresolved issues. Attempts to address skewed ownership and economic participation patterns, the result of many years of exclusion and dispossession of black South Africans, have been unsuccessful since 1994. The present government has now turned to possible changes to the Constitution to deal with these failures.

But recent public hearings into these possible changes have highlighted the importance of understanding identity and relationships between groups – not just economics or material wealth – for resolving sensitive issues such as these. The hearings show that fixing the problem of land reform isn’t as simple as dealing with legal necessities, or simply parcelling out land to new owners.

Land reform is much more complex because it involves issues of identities and intergroup relations, as my recent study of agricultural land owners’ views shows. The study is based on extensive interviews conducted with 40 land owners in the Limpopo province of South Africa.

I found that land owners don’t see land as only of economic value. It carried deep symbolic value too. Land (and the ability to own and develop it) is closely related to owners’ identities and their sense of belonging.

The study also showed that land owners were critical of reform initiatives that seem to be motivated by what they perceived to be political agendas rather than agricultural ones. They thought differently about land reform when they believed they were perceived as “farmers” rather than just as representatives of a race.

Land owners, the study revealed, can see the potential of reform for establishing lasting relationships. This suggests that the solution to land reform in South Africa lies in relationships between groups, not just in dividing up material goods. What is more, owners appeared more willing to try reform at a community level than at a level where government officials are involved. This was because people depended on each other in communities.

A final important finding was that land owners felt the current debate portrayed them as being opposed to reform rather than cooperative. This interpretation arises partly from landowners’ own prejudices (this includes racial, class and ideological prejudices) and partly from the way in which certain land reform narratives are publicly constructed.

The research

Unfortunately much of the current discussion about land reform is conducted in ways that suggests only winners and losers, “us and them”, inclusion and exclusion. For example, talk about “returning the land to our people” can unintentionally imply that those who currently own land are not “our people”.

There is probably no single formula that will transform the entire debate, but there are a few things everyone can do. And they are not only the responsibility of political leaders.

First, the public discussion needs to make land reform a South African problem rather than a racial problem. People have shown that it is possible to adopt more inclusive identities when there is a shared dedication to such an identity. The way in which South Africans of all backgrounds rallied around the 1995 Rugby World Cup winning team bears witness to this. This is an example of people uniting behind an overarching identities.

Second, the discussion should emphasise that the solution will come when people depend on each other. Research has shown that if competing groups face problems that have dire consequences for all of them (and all acknowledge these consequences), and if the solution lies in cooperation, conflicting social identities matter less.

Shifting the debate

Some may argue that these suggestions are naïve. They may be correct. But the debate can’t continue in the same old way. Something has to change in the interests of future generations of South Africans.

The conflict associated with land reform will not be addressed by simply redistributing land according to whatever targets are chosen. If reform disregards how South Africans relate to each other in terms of their social identities, the underlying conflict will remain long after any reform process is concluded.

The Conversation

Gert Young does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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