I refer to an article that appeared in your publication of 9 June 2023 (Homeless, Hopeless, and Forgotten), about a Hooggenoeg family who is currently staying at the community hall because their house was not safe for them to live in. As someone who was very involved for the past two years in the case, I need to correct a few things on the matter.
Councillor Phumelele Peter came into office in 2021 and the issue was reported to him. He escalated the matter to the District Disaster Management office, and to the Regional and Provincial Human Settlement offices. He was given the explanation that they were busy with the registration of all cases of people who need temporary houses. The province wanted to deal with all cases, not one case. The Human Settlements Department and District Disaster Management offices came and assessed the damage to the Pyks family’s house. It was agreed that particulars of the family must be forwarded to the Human Settlements offices and the Councillor was to facilitate the process. He did exactly that. There were many setbacks as other family members did not have their IDs with them.
Cllr Peter also engaged the Makana Municipality Speaker, Cllr Matyumza, and an agreement was reached that Cllr Peter and the Speaker would use money out of their own pockets to fix the house. Cllr Matyumza went to the house to assess the damage but before they could do anything, they were advised by the town planners that the house was totally destroyed, beyond repair, and needs to be demolished. Now the exercise was gonna be very expensive for the Speaker and Cllr Peter to do the project from their own pockets, so they started pushing the Human Settlements Department to speed up the process. A Mr Ashwell from the Department got involved and made a huge difference in terms of speeding up the process. I believe now it’s in the final stages, and very soon the family will get the help they need and community members will get their hall back.
Throughout the process, the family and community members were informed about all the steps and processes taken in trying to sort out the issue. The matter was always on the agenda of meetings held with the community: Cllr Peter, myself as a former ward committee member, and Candy Mentor of the ward committee. We had to intervene many times when community members wanted to remove the Pyks family from the hall and insisted that the family will stay there until an alternative safe place or temporary structure is provided. It was not an easy journey but it’s a lie to say nothing was done and Cllr Peter and his Committee were not involved, and that they just went awol.
Lastly, I want to address [A4A CivActs member] Sandra Whiteboy’s statement that Cllr Peter does not hold community meetings and is nowhere to be found. Exactly two weeks ago, she was telling the Councillor about an Area Khoi San programme to which she wanted the Councillor to donate money. The Councillor did donate and supported the programme as he normally does for any ward programmes. I believe Ms Whiteboy is positioning herself to be a new Ward Committee member and later on, she will contest as the Ward Councillor on the ticket of her Khoi San organisation. There is nothing wrong with that as this is a free country, but she must not push her narrative and agenda at the expense of the poor people. Everything that was reported to the Councillor and the ward committees was attended to. Only a few things still need the attention of the Municipality, such as fixing street lights, installation of speed humps, tarring streets, and addressing unemployment. Cllr Peter also made a commitment a long time ago that as soon as the Pyks family gets a safe house, he will fix the Community hall out of his pocket.
Activist and former Ward Committee member