The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) in Cape Town is awaiting the signing of an agreement with the City of Cape Town to recognize the housing needs of rail line squatters in Langa as emergency.

Some members of the Philippi and Mitchells Plain communities say they are saddened by the news that Prasa has signed an agreement with the Siakhlala community to relocate them to their areas.

District councilor Elton Jansen claims that Prasa secretly signed a memorandum of understanding with the shack dwellers without consulting the host community.

Trains on the Cape Town Central Line have not been able to resume since residents occupied the Pras property amid the COVID-19 restrictions.

The rail operator is losing an average of 400 million rand in ticket revenue per financial year and is under pressure to restore services on the Central Line. In 2021, the Supreme Court issued an order to evict squatters who had built shacks on the railway line.

The host community says they were not consulted by Prasa.

Relocation of families living on the Cape Town Central Railway Line [14 July 2022]

Application for emergency housing

Prasa says it is awaiting the council’s processes to approve a section 68 – which it says is an application for emergency accommodation.

Prasa chairman Leonard Ramatlakane admits that the land has been identified and that the memorandum has been signed by all stakeholders, including the Siahlala community.

However, Ramatlakane says consultation with the host community still needs to be done.

“Consultation only begins once section 68 has been approved by the mayor and it has been declared that the section facilitates consultation. So, unless the mayor has declared section 68, no one can go [and] consult On what basis? Because the consultation will be based on the documentation – specifically section 68,” Ramatlakane.

The community’s vice chairman, Siakhlala Mwuisi Mngana, says they have signed a social contract with Prasa.

In September 2021, the community of Siakhlala was supposed to be resettled on the Erste River, but there were delays as the community signed a petition to reject the land grabbers.

Prasa, meanwhile, says it needs the central line up and running by November 2022.

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