Kya Sands Informal Settlement

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--Dylan 06:11, 14 December 2011 (CST)
Kya Sands
—  Informal Settlement  —
Kya Sands' Location in the City of Johannesburg © 2011
Nickname(s): Dumping (whole settlement), Pipeline (portion of the settlement east of the river), Madala Side (the north-east portion of Pipeline)
Kya Sands' Immediate Location (© 2011 Google Earth; © 2011 AfriGIS; © 2011 Digital Globe)
Coordinates: 26°01′30″S 27°57′29″E / 26.024921°S 27.958038°E / -26.024921; 27.958038
Country South Africa
Province Gauteng
Municipality City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality (COJ)
Region / Ward Region A / Ward 96
 - Ward Counsellor Matome Matome Mafokwane [1] (Democratic Alliance)
Area(Inhabited Land)
 - Total 0.156 km2 (0.1 sq mi)
  Taken from 2009 Aerial Photographs
Population (2009)
 - Total 16,238
 - Density 104,089.7/km2 (269,591.2/sq mi)
  Professional Mobile Mapping Social Survey[2]

Kya Sands is an informal settlement in Region A of the City of Johannesburg (CoJ), South Africa.

Sign at the Entrance to Pipeline Reading "Kya Sands Formal Settlement: Please RDP"


Location and Geography

Immediate Context

Kya Sands lies some 15km North West of the Sandton CBD and about 3km directly north of the intersection of Malibongwe Drive and Witkoppen Road. The settlement can be accessed by either Agnes Avenue, Bloubosrand or Kya Sand Road, Kya Sand.

Kya Sands lies on both sides of the North Riding Stream (or Kya Sand Spruit depending on the source). It is closely bordered by the Kya Sand industrial area to the west, the Bloubosrand residential suburb to the east, the Hoogland industrial area to the south (separated by the old Randburg landfill site) and mostly small holdings to the north.

The settlement occupies both private and government-owned land, lying on 6 different farm and agricultural holdings. The privately owned sections of the settlement lie on the western side of the stream. CoJ owned land includes sections immediately adjacent to the stream and the property containing the old Randburg Landfill site (Houtkoppen 193-IQ ptn. 46). Portion 51 of the same farm (Houtkoppen I93-IQ), on which a large portion of the settlement lies, is owned by South African National Government and administered by the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG)[3].


Sections and Local Names in Kya Sands Informal Settlement
Kya Sands Informal Settlement gets its name from the adjacent industrial area, Kya Sand. Other popular names for the settlement include Dumping and Kya Centre. The settlement is also referred to as Kya Sand, Phomolong and Kya Junction by some residents.

Respondent 37 goes into some of the history of the names of the area. She relates the name Kya Sand to the fact that sand used to be dug up there for industrial purposes and the name Dumping relates to the adjacent landfill site. She says “Before there was a dumping here there was sand. Kya Sand. It was a place to find sand to build the industry” (Respondent-37, 2012). It is assumed that the name Kya Centre is used due to the similar sound to Kya Sands.

Different sections of Kya Sands also have different names. The settlement is broken down firstly into Sections A to D. These are defined by government and are used in counting and numbering houses and toilets in the settlement. While access has not been gained to this data by the author (nor by community leaders (Modikwe, 2012)) the most recent batch of numbering was taking place during the latter part of the interview process for this work, in January 2012. Other names include Pipeline, the whole section of the settlement east of the river, and Madala Side, the northern part of Pipeline. While these sections are indicated in Figure 4 below, the exact boundaries are not included, as this level of detail is unclear. According to Respondent 37, Pipeline got its name as a piping company used to use the area for storing its pipes (2012). It is thought that the name Madala Side, meaning old side in isiZulu, is the same name as a section of the settlement that was relocated between 2006 and 2007. Residents were relocated from a secluded section of the settlement south of section B, to Pipeline, and the name Madala Side relocated with them (see Figure 17).


Up until 2007, the settlement had no formal servicing whatsoever, including water, sanitation, refuse removal or electricity. The settlement now has some basic services provided by the City of Johannesburg. These include a refuse removal service, potable water delivered through communal standpipes, basic lighting through scattered Apollo lights and chemical toilets (both private and communal) that are periodically emptied by the city. These services are discussed in further detail under Short Term Interventions below.


According to the City of Johannesburg's informal settlement data, Kya Sands Informal settlement was first established in 1998. Informal houses were initially set up there by subcontractors working at the adjacent Randburg Landfill site [4] and the Kya Sand and Hoogland industrial areas.


As Huchzermeyer (2011) argues, because of their informal and ever changing nature, enumerations of informal settlements are not easy to accurately conduct and quickly go out of date. This seems to be the case in Kya Sands with differing reports on the number of people and households in the settlement from different sources. Sources known to the author include the City of Johannesburg (2007a), Professional Mobile Mapping (PMM) (2009) -a survey company commissioned by the CoJ- , Growth Indicator Data from Geo TerraImage (GTI) (2010) and fieldwork and other research conducted by the author for this project. These are all referred to here as best as possible to give an indication of the demographics of Kya Sands and to highlight and note the possible limitations or inaccuracies. This shows that while there is some idea as to what the makeup of the settlement is, it certainly can be debated.

Government Responses

On 15 November 2006, a mayoral road show visited Kya Sands. These road shows are a form of public participation that allow residents to communicate directly with the top management of the CoJ and to which "all members of the Mayoral Committee and many senior officials of the administration [are] expected to accompany the Executive Mayor" [5] . From this visit, and due to the "appalling conditions that were found on site" the mayor set up a task team made up of the city's Development Planning, Urban Management and Housing departments to come up with long and short term strategies to address the "health and safety risks confronting the community" [6].

While short term interventions have been fairly successful in delivering basic services, no long term interventions have been implemented to date with no action in sight. This has resulted in numerous service delivery protests in Kya Sands, with the most recent coinciding with Human Rights Day, 21 March, 2012. A major obstacle and source of confusion is the lack of clarity on who is responsible for long term interventions in Kya Sands. This confusion lies both within the community, and between the two entities concerned, being the City of Johannesburg and the Gauteng Provincial Government. Responsibility seems to sway from one to the other periodically, with seemingly little collaboration between the two, at least more recently.

Short Term Interventions

Approximately one month after the mayoral visit of November 2006, emergency and short term interventions were proposed to and accepted by the CoJ Mayoral Committee with work already having started at the time of the report. Some 9 months later, on 4 October 2007, fair progress was reported to the committee (City of Johannesburg, 2007b). This progress, along with confirmation of service delivery and emergency interventions from fieldwork, is as follows.

Basic Service Delivery

According to the City of Johannesburg basic water and sanitation delivered by 2007 included the installation of 120 chemical toilets as well as 48 standpipes and 12 stationary water tanks providing potable water.

A Typical "Standpipe Unit" in Kya Sands Informal Settlement
In reality, this seems fairly accurate. If water tanks were initially delivered, they are no longer in place and it is assumed that these were used while installing standpipes. While working standpipes are in place, the number of 48 is much higher than those actually installed. On the last day of fieldwork in Kya Sands, 22 standpipes were counted. The higher number indicated by the CoJ may be due to each tap per standpipe-unit being counted as one however. Each ‘standpipe unit’ has 6 taps on it. The CoJ may be referring to 8 such systems, making up 48 taps in total. If this is the case, then the initial delivery of taps has been substantially added to. While working taps have been installed, no drainage system is in place. Because of this, many of the roads downhill from taps are eroded. The small gulleys cut into the roads seem to also channel storm water further exacerbating the problem. Regarding toilets, it is easily conceivable that 120 were installed, and probably more. There are two types of toilets, plastic bucket toilets (commonly known as
Map showing the Distribution of Different Toilet Types Across Kya Sands
'portaloos') and concrete Ventilated Improved Pit Latrines (VIPs) made by the South African Company Amalooloo. These are spread across the settlement in different configurations, from communal to semi-communal to private toilets. While Sections B and C only have communal plastic chemical toilets, Pipeline has a mixture of communal chemical toilets and private and semi-private VIPs. Communal toilets are used by many people and families, semi-private ones are used by a group of families whose houses are near to a single VIP, and private VIPs are when each stand has its own VIP (although there are sometimes more than one household per stand). The last category only exists on stands demarcated by the CoJ to which people were relocated in 2007 (detailed below). The City of Johannesburg's water agency, Johannesburg Water, also runs at least two vacuum trucks (also known as "honey suckers") that periodically empty the toilets in the settlement. This was reported, for example, by Respondent 7 (2012) who said: "...with these toilets, they come maybe every month, like yesterday, they were here cleaning."

In the CoJ document, it was further reported that Pikitup, the city's refuse removal and waste management company, removed some 65 tons of dumped refuse and rubble from the settlement. It was also reported that the company hired 10 full time and 10 casual workers from the community to collect refuse in the community and deliver it in refuse bags to central points for daily collection by Pikitup. While the removal of rubble cannot be confirmed, Pikitup certainly continues to collect refuse from Kya Sands. Black plastic bags are provided to residents, and trucks conduct regular rounds collecting rubbish. It is also confirmed that residents of Kya Sands are hired by Pikitup to help collect rubbish bags and litter during these rounds, and load them into trucks.

The final basic service delivered is a network of Apollo lights scattered around the settlement. On the last day of fieldwork in Kya Sands, 11 such lights were counted. Besides these lights and the odd generator and car battery, there is no other electricity supply in the settlement. The lights are also reported by some residents to be poorly maintained. Respondent 7 for example reports that it is dangerous walking at night in the dark, he says “These lights, they have been working, but right now they are not” (2012).

Proposed Long Term Interventions

Over the past 6 years there have been two major proposals for long term interventions in Kya Sands. Both have entailed the full relocation of the community to new formal housing developments nearby. So far, no construction or relocations to formal housing have taken place, with the whole process having stalled, and no due date proposed or in sight (Daniels, 2010; Mendelsohn, 2011; Sabela, 2011; Mantshontsho, 2012).

Initial Proposal January 2007

Initially, it was proposed that the entire community be relocated to Portion 51 of the adjacent farm, Houtkoppen I93-IQ (the same farm where emergency relocations had recently taken place, Figure 10). The farm is directly adjacent to the settlement, which means that residents would not have to move away from work opportunities or other benefits they enjoy as a result of the settlements location. The land is owned by the South African National Government and administered by the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) (City of Johannesburg, 2007a). A feasibility study on low income housing on the farm portion taken in 2004, showed the land to be adequate for development, with capacity for bulk water, sewage and electricity (ibid). The study identified that there was space for 860 plots of 250 square metres each. This was predicted to be adequate to house the entire settlement (at the time), with a possible need for some spill over onto adjacent pieces of open land (ibid). This proposal was accepted by the mayoral committee, and steps were proposed, including meeting with the GPG to discuss obtaining the land for development. In 2008, it was reported that the development potential of the Portion 51 of the farm Houtkoppen I93-IQ could yield enough housing for the entire relocation of Kya Sands in three housing types, namely row housing, 3 storey and 4 storey walk ups (City of Johannesburg, 2008). This, in total, would include 5,159 units, similar to the high estimate of units in the settlement of 5,325 dwellings (PMM, 2009).

Revised Proposal October 2007

At a task team meeting in August 2007, the GPG Department of housing (who were in attendance) put forward a revised long term proposal for the residents of Kya Sands informal settlement (City of Johannesburg, 2007b). This proposal looked at a larger scale solution for not only Kya Sands informal settlement, but also other informal settlements in northern Johannesburg. This made apparent sense, as it was a more comprehensive solution for the city region, rather than a piecemeal approach targeting only one settlement. It was proposed that a mixed use and mixed income settlement be built in a similar vein to that of Cosmo City . The development would take place just to the north of Cosmo City on portions 19 and 20 of the farm Nietgedacht 535 JQ (see Figure 26 below) and accommodate some 10,000 households from 9 informal settlements, including Kya Sands. The development would include the in-situ upgrade of Itsoseng and Lion Park informal settlements and new development around this. These informal settlements lie within the proposed development area. The development of Portion 51 of the farm Houtkoppen I93-IQ (from the initial proposal) would also proceed in order to accommodate any spill over from the larger development. It was thus agreed that the GPG department of housing would go ahead with feasibility studies for the area (City of Johannesburg, 2007b) and with acquiring the land for donation to the CoJ (City of Johannesburg, 2008). The proposal was approved by the Gauteng executive council housing department on 12 February, 2008 (ibid).

On 9 October, 2009 a letter was written by the then executive director of Development Planning and Urban Management at the CoJ, Prof. Philip Harrison, to the acting head of the Local Government and Housing department at the GPG. The letter outlined the city's concern regarding the delay in the project, with no progress having been made up to that time. It noted that the CoJ and the GPG had met with the residents of Kya Sands informal settlement on 22 March 2007, informing them of the planned relocation. It also noted that on 24 September 2009, the residents of Kya Sands staged a march the lack of progress. It has since been reported that there is no allocated budget at the provincial or municipal levels for bulk services to be installed at portions 19 and 20 of the farm Nietgedacht (Mendelsohn, 2011; Sabela, 2011), and that to provide bulk water to the area would be prohibitively expensive in the short term (Daniels, 2010). Thus, as mentioned in the introduction to this section, the project has stalled, with no foreseeable plan of action in place. In a cruel coincidence, the words 'niet gedacht' translate directly from Dutch to the English words, 'not thought'.

Current Status of Development Plans

While there is some information available to the author on the current status of long term development in Kya Sands, it is limited and includes no ‘official’ documents. Newspaper articles are available reporting on meetings between the community of Kya Sands and the CoJ. Currently, it seems that the CoJ has reassumed responsibility, with indications that intervention will be follow the initial proposal of January 2007, with overflow accommodated by the larger development in Lion Park (the opposite to the revised proposal of October 2007). The numbers of households that will be accommodated and where and when these will be accommodated is not however clear. In late 2011 for example, Nomsa Mlotshwa, head of housing for Region A in the CoJ, reportedly told the community that "4500 walk-up units will be built right here" (Sabela, 2011). She also reported that the major obstacle to the development was the lack of bulk services (water and sewage, despite earlier reports to the contrary) and a lack of money for these to be upgraded, but that a R50 million project was in place to do so (ibid). This project would serve both the development at Kya Sands, and the larger one at Lion Park.

More recently, following the service delivery protests of March 2012, another meeting was held between the residents of Kya Sands and officials from the city of Johannesburg. Here, the Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Housing at the CoJ, Bonakele Dan Bovu put forward a slightly different plan, reportedly telling the community that “2000 walk-up houses will be built... because we do not have enough land to cater for everyone. The rest of the families will be moved to Thabo Mbeki where there is enough space to build houses for 7000 families” (Mantshontsho, 2012, p. 1). He related the delay to both to the lack of bulk infrastructure and lack of funding for the project. He also reported that the project “...will take a minimum of five years” (Essop, 2012, p. 1). MMC Bovu ended the meeting promising that further short term service delivery including “proper toilets, a bridge..; proper spacing between the houses and extensions, a clinic and the possibility of installing electricity...” (Mantshontsho, 2012, p. 1). He told the community that he would report back to them in 60 days, following consultation with the leadership of the community and the CoJ (Essop, 2012, p. 1).

Unaccounted for Township Layout Overlapping the current Layout of Kya Sands - (©Google Maps 2012, Map Data AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd 2012 (Google Maps, 2012). Red overlay: 2011 outline of Kya Sands Informal Settlement traced; from 2011 ©Google-Aerial-Photograph; by Author
One possible source of apprehension for planning authorities (and a possible reason for the second proposal) is indicated in the figure on the right. The image (Google Maps, 2012) shows what seems to be a proposed future township development, possibly and extension of Bloubosrand. As is seen in the image, the township layout lies on portion 51 of the farm Houtkoppen, and significantly overlaps with Kya Sands (indicated by the red outline). While the source of the data cannot be confirmed, it is not on the CoJ future townships layer of their corporate GIS, and has obviously been designed and laid out by urban designers, with a similar layout and similar stand sizes to that of Bloubosrand. While the township layout is not indicated on the CoJ GIS, the green piece of ‘open land’ on the north western edge of the plan is the same exact shape as the open land indicated on the CoJ GIS. As the green space follows the contours of the layout closely, it is assumed that the township layout does exist in CoJ plans not yet reflected in this data layer. It is of course also possible that the plan is now redundant. The data is thought to be from AfriGIS, as indicated in the image and caption below. While the source of the data is not clear, AfriGIS’ data includes integrated data from many sources including “National coverage of surveyed property boundaries, as captured by the Surveyor General’s Offices around the country” (AfriGIS, 2012, p. 1). While the status of the layout is not known, it is a possibly a point of conflict, and something that also requires more investigation.

Service Delivery Protests

Content to follow.

Wiki References

  1. "Municipal elections results map". Independant Electoral Commission. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  2. Professional Mobile Mapping. "Socio Economic Survey, Johannesburg North: Kya Sands and Lion Park Informal Settlements". Unpublished. Retrieved 8 July 2011. 
  3. City of Johannesburg. "Action to Provide Short and Long Term Solutions for the Kya Sands Informal Settlement in Region A". Unpublished. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  4. City of Johannesburg. "Action to Provide Short and Long Term Solutions for the Kya Sands Informal Settlement in Region A". Unpublished. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  5. Reflecting on a Solid Foundation: Building Developmental Local Government 2000-2005. Johannesburg: City of Johannesburg. 2006. 
  6. City of Johannesburg. "Action to Provide Short and Long Term Solutions for the Kya Sands Informal Settlement in Region A". Unpublished. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 

Academic (Harvard) References

City of Johannesburg. (2006). Reflecting on a Solid Foundation: Building Developmental Local Government 2000-2005. Johannesburg: City of Johannesburg.

City of Johannesburg. (2007a). Action to Provide Short and Long Term Solutions for the Kya Sands Informal Settlement in Region A. Johannesburg: City of Johannesburg.

City of Johannesburg. (2007b). Revised Proposal for the long-term resolutions of the Kya Sands and surrounding informal settlements in Region A. Johannesburg: City of Johannesburg, Development Planning and Urban Management.

City of Johannesburg. (2008). Report on Progress: Long term resolution for the Kya Sand and surrounding informal settlements. Johannesburg: City of Johannesburg, Development Planning and Urban Management.

City of Johannesburg Corporate Geo-Informatics. (2011). Informal Settlements Data GIS Shapefile. Johannesburg: City of Johannesburg Corporate Geo-Informatics.

Daniels, G. (2010, October 13). Urban Management Coordinator, Department of Development Planning and Urban Management, City of Johannesburg. (D. Weakley, Interviewer) Johannesburg.

Essop, R. (2012, April 4). Kya Sands squatters urged to be patient. Retrieved May 3, 2012, from Eyewitness News: Eyewitness News. (2012, March 21). Protests hit Gauteng. Retrieved March 21, 2012, from Eyewitness News:

Geo TerraImage. (2010). General Notes, Collation, Naming Conventions and Definitions Used in Growth Indicator Data. Pretoria: Geo TerraImage. GeoTerraImage. (2010). Growth Indicator Data. Pretoria: GeoTerraImage.

Hong Kong Government. (2010). Population and Vital Events. Retrieved April 04, 2012, from The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China: Census and Statistics Department : Huchzermeyer, M. (2011). Cities With Slums. Cape Town: UCT Press.

Mantshontsho, M. (2012, April 17). More and more promises at Kya Sand Informal settlement. Retrieved May 3, 2012, from Cosmo City Chronicle:

Map Kibera Project. (2011, October 8). Maps and Statistics. Retrieved April 11, 2012, from Map Kibera Project: Marras, S. (2009, June 2). Mapping the unmapped. Retrieved April 11, 2012, from

Mendelsohn, J. (2011, February 18). Councillor of ward 94, City of Johannesburg. (D. Weakley, Interviewer) Paulshof.

Modikwe, B. (2012, February 1). Interview with community leader. (D. Weakley, Interviewer) Kya sands Informal Settlement, Johannesburg. Nijman, J. (2010). A Study of Space in Mumbai's Slums. Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie, 101(1), 4–17.

PMM. (2009). Socio Economic Survey, Johannesburg North: Kya Sands and Lion Park Informal Settlements. Bedfordview: Professional Mobile Mapping.

Resilience Alliance . (2010). Assessing Resilience in Social Ecological Systems: A Guidebook for Practitioners. Retrieved February 20, 2012, from

Respondent-11. (2012, January 16). Field Work Interview. (D. Weakley, Interviewer) Kya Sands Informal Settlement, Johannesburg.

Respondent-16. (2012, January 18). Field Work Interview. (D. Weakley, Interviewer) Kya Sands Informal Settlement, Johannesburg.

Respondent-17. (2012, January 17). Field Work Interview. (M. Mathabatha, Interviewer) Kya Sands Informal Settlement, Johannesburg.

Respondent-37. (2012, January 17). Field Work Interview. (M. Mathabatha, Interviewer) Kya Sands Informal Settlement, Johannesburg.

Respondent-41. (2012, January 20). Field Work Interview. (M. Mathabatha, Interviewer) Kya Sands Informal Settlement, Johannesburg.

Respondent-45. (2012, January 23). Field Work Interview. (M. Mathabatha, Interviewer) Kya Sands Informal Settlement, Johannesburg.

Respondent-47. (2012, January 23). Field Work Interview. (M. Mathabatha, Interviewer) Kya Sands Informal Settelment, Johannesburg.

Respondent-7. (2012, January 17). Field Work Interview. (D. Weakley, Interviewer) Kya Sands Informal Settlement, Johannesburg.

Sabela, Z. (2011, October 14). Kya Sand informal settlement development snags. Retrieved November 22, 2011, from Randburg Sun:

Tissington, K. (2012). Towards Greater Community Participation in Informal Settlement Upgrading: A Case from Slovo Park, Johannesburg. In GGLN, Putting participation at the heart of development OR putting development at the heart of participation: A Civil Society Perspective on Local Governance in South Africa (pp. 50-61). Cape Town: Good Governance Learning Network.

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