Scene 5: Kuku Town Visit Provides Example


Kuku Town was a small informal settlement in Wynberg with 17 structures in the process of being reblocked. Kuku Town had recently started the first step of construction the day we visited during which several toilets already completed. We decided to visit to get a clearer idea of how what would be happening in Flamingo in the coming weeks.

Cast of Characters

WPI Project Team
WPI Professors: Scott Jiusto, Lorraine Higgins
City Employees: Anneline Plaaitjies, Estralita Kwalo, Reggie O’Brien
Kuku Town Community Construction Manager: Verona
CORC Liaison: Sizwe Mxobo
UCT Graduate Researcher: Sophia
Flamingo Crescent Residents: Nathan, Mark, Elizabeth, and Auntie Marie


The Kuku Town informal settlement.



The construction of a toilet in Kuku Town

When we first walked into Kuku Town, we saw a man and two teenage boys laying and compacting a base ground cover.  Around the corner several men dressed in matching bright blue jump suits were assembling a concrete toilet onto a previously compacted foundation. This was the first example that we had seen of the reblocking construction process, with three or four community members working for a contractor.

WPI Students, Flamingo Crescent community member Elizabeth, and Sizwe (CORC) looking over a CAD layout

WPI Students, Flamingo Crescent community member Elizabeth, and Sizwe (CORC) looking over a CAD layout

We spent most of our time in Kuku Town discussing the reblocking process with Sizwe, who worked on the planning and layout, and Verona, the community member managing local involvement in the construction process. Both conversations were very valuable because they brought practical experience to the reblocking process. From talking to Sizwe, we were able to learn about how the shacks were arranged, and how the plans and layout continued to change even as construction started. Even though Kuku Town was a much simpler layout than Flamingo will be, his explanation was helpful because it gave our co-researchers and us a clearer idea of how reblocking plans were formed.


Verona, Kuku Town community leader and construction planner

Our conversation with Verona was even more interesting because we could immediately see how critical her motivation and organizational skills were to the project and because we learned her techniques for handling reblocking. She managed all community involvement with a small notebook, tracking all of the workers and their schedules. She emphasized how important this scheduling was –since the payment that the workers received was often needed for them to afford their new shack.  The schedule has to ensure that everyone who needs money gets it in time.


Visiting Kuku Town was very helpful because it allowed our team and our co-researchers to get a glimpse of a reblocking already in progress. Since it is further along in the process, we were able to get a better idea of how the construction process would go. Most importantly, it gave the Flamingo community members with us a better idea of what would eventually happen in their settlement. We also learned the approach that Verona took to managing the reblocking, which will be useful for the construction facilitation team.