Cape Town’s ward 109 residents outraged over Prasa’s plan to relocate illegal occupants to Macassar

Shacks erected on the Central line just outside Langa train station. File Picture: Henk Kruger / Independent Newspapers

Shacks erected on the Central line just outside Langa train station. File Picture: Henk Kruger / Independent Newspapers

Published Apr 3, 2024


Residents of Ward 109 in the City of Cape Town, Western Cape are fuming with anger due to the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (Prasa’s) intentions to transfer unlawful inhabitants from their central railway line to Macassar.

The local community opposes the plan to move the squatters into their town.

Peter Helfrich, the City of Cape Town ward councillor said the community accuses both Prasa and the Housing Development Agency (HDA) of deception.

“Approximately 5,195 households have established informal settlements along the Prasa central railway line, comprising unauthorised structures erected at Langa Station, Philippi Station, and Khayelitsha Station.

“This encroachment has significantly impeded Prasa's operational capacity, leading to the suspension of operations on the central railway line. Commuter services have also been halted since October 2019 due to this encroachment and the prevalent issues of vandalism, theft, and safety concerns,” he said.

Residents of ward 109 were advised in 2022 that Prasa intends to obtain land in Macassar from private owners in order to remove some of the unlawful squatters on their core railway line.

The locals immediately demanded an urgent meeting with Prasa on August 2, 2022, to discuss the problem. Prasa's implementing agency then attended the conference and represented the organisation.

During the public meeting, the HDA assured locals that no premature assumptions were being made.

They highlighted that neither Prasa nor the HDA had formally agreed to acquire the land in question, since other alternative sites in Cape Town were judged more viable.

The HDA underlined their commitment to openness by declaring that if discussions were to begin over any parcels of property inside Macassar for the transfer of unlawful squatters along their core railway line, people would be notified immediately via another public meeting.

On March 24, 2024, the railway organisation announced plans to transfer 2,000 homes off the central railway line to previously specified places in Macassar.

“This announcement signifies a notable departure from the purported commitments previously articulated by Prasa, acting in conjunction with its implementing agent, the HDA.

“Residents have voiced sentiments of betrayal, alleging that they were deceived by Prasa and the HDA, as they were not apprised of these developments, in accordance with the promised transparency,” added Helfrich.

Community leader Waseemah Flaendorp said that she is infuriated by Prasa's blatant disregard of their promises.

“Back in 2022, they assured us that they would prioritise engaging with our community before moving forward with this land acquisition. Yet, here we are, witnessing their unilateral actions without as much as a courtesy consultation.

“The people of Ward 109 are seething with a sense of disrespect and neglect. We refuse to tolerate this flagrant betrayal. Prasa is about to face the fiercest opposition they have ever encountered. We are prepared to stand our ground and fight tooth and nail against this,” said Flaendorp.

IOL News has approached Prasa for comment. The story will be updated.