By Lindiwe Solani
30 years ago the residents of Grassy Park, from two different areas invaded land which was more than 400m² each. They were twelve families who occupied the land. The owner of the plots was originally a man who passed away, then his daughter took over as inheritance. They used to pay rent of up to R3500 per month to the owner. Some of these occupants were unemployed, as a result it was hard for them to fulfil their payments. At a later stage, they all received eviction notices from the landlord’s lawyer. The people were dismayed for they had nowhere else to go. This was their only home for many years.
According to Jennifer Van Wyk, one of the rent-paying residents, who happened to belong to the Western Cape Backyarders Network, supported by CORC (Community Organisation Resource Centre), arranged a meeting with the owner, so as to negotiate selling the land to them. They formed a savings club, where they also fundraised, by selling boerewors on weekends, doing karaoke’s, or Valentine’s balls. They realized that the savings alone was not enough.
The land owner decided to sell the land to the WC Backyarders, this was done in writing. Their next step was to approach the municipality: The city was supportive as a result, they even received title deeds. The network incorporated a few shacks that were also facing the same plight, to be part of the group.
They were so motivated, that they decided to draft up a plan. They drew a chart, whereby bricks were drawn up to make many levels. A brick costs R6 each. This is when these families decided to opt for rezoning, to alter the current structures to be residential ones.
The process of rezoning is still underway. There is so much red tape that needs to be followed, such as handling of land purchase over to the new owners, and renovating the structures to be suitable for residential needs. “We hope and pray that one day we’ll have a place, we can call our own”, explained Jennifer Van Wyk.