Housing is regarded as a fundamental human right and need. The South African government provides low-cost housing to many citizens. However, housing problems continue to exist, especially among the poor. To address the housing problem; South Africa introduced several housing policies, programmes, and housing legislation. These interventions included the introduction of the Reconstruction and Development Program, Rental and Mortgage Acts, Growth Employment and Redistribution Program, and National Housing Code of 2009 (Manomano et al., 2016:1).

Background to the study

According to Juta and Matsiliza (2014:375), South Africa introduced several post-apartheid policies that were meant to address imbalances caused by the system of the past. The first aim was to introduce affordable houses and subsidize low-cost houses for poor people who cannot qualify for bank home loans. Nevertheless, housing provision is still a challenge because poor South Africans cannot access cost-friendly human settlements.

South African housing policies are based on an incremental approach, they have been amended several times by the Breaking New Ground and Reconstruction Development Programme. Lindblom (1959) illustrates that the disadvantage of the whole system is the failure to consider all alternative solutions. The incremental model moves towards a big decision by taking smaller steps to decisions. Findings in the incremental model are based on experience.

Reconstruction Development Programme policies were introduced in 1994, stimulated by the Keynesian approach to economic reconstruction. However, the South African government failed to implement the incremental housing policy because Urban Housing Forum programmes were under the dominance of experts pushing business interests. This illustrates that the incremental approach is a problem when addressing the housing problems of people living in rural areas because of the tenure land security system based on traditional communal rights. As a result, it is difficult for people in rural areas to secure mortgage bonds(Juta and Mostiliza, 2014:375).

South Africa, Western Cape housing

According to Bindani (2007), there is a housing crisis in the Western Cape. Khayelitsha is one of the locations that demonstrate concern. The majority populations of Khayelitsha live in informal houses called “Imikhukhu". These shacks are, to some extent, uncomfortable to live in because of being hot in summer, cold in winter, and leaking during the rainy season. This illustrates that some people do not receive fundamental human rights and services. In addition, the shacks are built with little space between neighbours, and fire outbreaks can cause widespread damage. Matheson (2011:26) argues that factors force residents, specifically African, to live in informal settlements. Firstly, high levels of rapid urbanization are occurring in Cape Town. The repeal of Pass laws affected the migration rate from rural to urban. This creates a massive population in metropolitan areas. Secondly, the lack of human settlement land makes it difficult for the government to build subsidized houses. Cape Town has sandy terrain and mountainous topography, which leads to a lack of buildable land-dwelling. The scarcity of land has led to high land prices.

There is a constant increase in population in Western Cape, specifically Cape Town. The United Nations Habitat Report (2010) estimated that the number of people in Cape Town would surpass 6 million in the next 10-15 years. Nonetheless, the number is estimated to be 5.8 million in 2023 (Worldpopulationreview, 2023). The constant increase in population makes it difficult for the government to provide adequate formal housing. The house waiting list is growing while those from rural areas are migrating to Cape Town. Matheson (2011:26) states that the impatience of poor residents on the waiting list for formal housing leads to illegal land occupation. When Reconstruction and Development Programme houses are built, it takes time for owners to move in. Desperate and low-income families illegally occupy these houses, which presents difficulties for officials because illegal occupants start believing they have equal land rights. In response, the Cape Town government has created an anti-land invasion element to remove unlawful occupants. This is similar to the Pass laws. The city is currently drafting strict rules to remove large-scale illegal occupants (Charles, 2020).

In summary, South Africa has a housing problem. Western Cape, specifically Cape Town and Khayelitsha, are no exception. There is an increasing rate of illegal occupants because of the lack of housing solutions. These occupants are forcefully removed throughout South Africa, which has recently been seen in Cape Town. The forceful removal creates the motion that looks like officials are violating the human rights of the illegal dwellers, but this is not the case because the land may have rightful owners who are also poor.


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