The City of Cape Town has warned residents seeking affordable housing of scammers and “shack farming” syndicates orchestrating unlawful land occupations in Cape Town.

In a statement released on Thursday, the City’s human settlements department deemed “shack farming” a lucrative criminal act involving syndicates who “sell” land that does not belong to them, including City-owned land.

“Most of Cape Town’s recent unlawful occupations have been orchestrated by ‘shack farming’ syndicates or others enabling large unlawful occupations. Stealing land in this manner, steals opportunities from those who are registered on the (Housing Needs) register and from beneficiaries that are in the process of receiving their affordable housing opportunity. Queue-jumping for housing opportunities and services is unacceptable,” the statement reads.

The City’s mayoral committee member for Human Settlements Malusi Booi said the Housing Needs Register has been regulated to ensure fairness.

“Residents should therefore be aware of potential scammers who seek to take advantage of vulnerable residents wanting to place their names on the Register. The City reminds its residents that they do not need to pay to register, or to receive a State-subsidised unit if they are a qualifying beneficiary. If you are being asked to pay for a place on the register, or a plot of land that belongs to the City, it is illegal and it is a scam,” he said.

Booi said the City considers housing opportunities on a first-come, first-served basis, and takes age and special needs into consideration.

“Beneficiaries of all City housing projects are allocated in accordance with the City’s Allocation Policy: Housing Opportunities and the Housing Needs Register. This ensures that housing opportunities to those in need are provided in a fair, transparent and equitable manner to ensure no queue jumping.”

He said the City spends almost all the budget it receives for housing and it will continue to hand over homes to the most vulnerable residents across the city over the coming months.

Meanwhile, housing activist group Reclaim The City (RTC) believes the City is not doing enough to address the housing backlog. “We are the same people who should benefit from affordable housing if only the City had built it,” said RTC Woodstock chapter leader Karen Hendricks.

She said the City has not progressed on the five of those 11 sites in the inner-city that were tendered and now needs to be re-tendered. “They are dragging their feet. No allocation policy and no public participation process has started yet. In 2019 the local, provincial and national government admitted that they had not built affordable housing for the past 25 years. They have failed to distribute land for housing, but have instead leased out golf courses, parking lots, bowling greens to the wealthy at discounted prices instead of using land to build much needed housing,” she said.

Hendricks explained that the Salt River market development had not materialised yet because the sale of the land to the Social Housing company has not yet been finalised.

“People need to live in housing not in a database. The City has no inclusionary housing policy even though we are in the midst of a housing crisis and a COVID-19 pandemic. Land occupations exist because of the City’s failure to address the housing crisis by making land available for housing for the poor and working class.”

For more information about registering or updating your details on the Housing Needs Register phone 021 444 0333, WhatsApp 063 299 9927 or email

Journalist with a passion for words and people. Indigenous Cape Town breed who strives to be lekker. Motto: You eat a gatsby one bite at a time.



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