City officials responsible for the Phoenix Housing Project in Manenberg were met with hostile stares from infuriated residents on Friday when an informal gathering, arranged to discuss beneficiaries' concerns, turned into a shouting match.
Angry residents accused project manager, Roger Carney, of building sub-standard houses and not taking enough interest in queries and complaints coming from future owners.
Phoenix community liaison officer, Clayton Ambrose, says the city is not fulfilling its commitment.
"The only explanation I can think of is that there was a communication gap. Since the last meeting, statistics about gutters and other aspects have changed and these changes are definitely not according to the agreement. Someone from council should come out here and explain to our people what exactly is going on. They are messing with people's lives."
Irate beneficiary Nuraan Peters says the quality of the houses is "ridiculous" and not what they were initially promised. "According to the plan we saw, the houses would have two doors, gutters and two windows at the front of the house. But now they are building homes with one door, no gutters and one window at the front of the house. It looks like a dog kennel."
She says regular phone calls and visits to the council's offices in Cape Town have yielded nothing.
"They referred us from one person to the next. Where must I get a straight answer if they won't give it to me?"
Gaps between the bricks in walls, faulty roofs and the absence of air vents were some of the complaints lodged by the infuriated group.
But Carney says that the city has "no more money". "The council put R1,5 million into this project. There is no extra money for gutters as provision is not made for that in low cost housing."
He says these "luxuries" are not part of the city's initial plan. The plans showed that the houses would only have one door.
Carney says a meeting will be arranged to discuss further questions later in the week.
Ward councillor Nomathansanqu Msuthu says although the situation is not fair to the residents, there is nothing she can do about it.
The city's new housing manager, Herman Steyn, says basic things such as gutters should be paid for and installed by the home owner.
"The gutter isn't part of the plan. This wasn't provided for and the home owners will have to install and buy it themselves."
He adds that the houses are "in no way sub-standard", as the project is monitored by the National Home Builders? Registration Council.