Evictees’ Blackheath move backfires

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Copy of ca p4 Blackheath Lwandle-5026 CAPE ARGUS Blackheath residents keep watch over the disputed site on Tuesday morning Picture: Henk Kruger/Cape Argus

Cape Town - The future of the people evicted from Nomzamo remained uncertain on Tuesday morning, although several hundred people have been granted a further week of shelter at the community hall in the area.

Last week, about 890 people were evicted from 235 shacks in Lwandle during a spell of bitter winter weather. On Monday, in equally foul weather, they were not welcomed by their new neighbours when they arrived at the Blackheath site earmarked for their homes.

Residents of Gaylee gave the evictees a hostile reception, and after a tense stand-off, the Lwandle residents were told to head back to Nomzamo Hall where they have been camping, because their building materials had not been delivered.

Of the approximately 890 people evicted, 300 have been living in the hall – and the city has said they can remain for a further week.

However, a legal impasse remained between the national Human Settlements ministry and the City of Cape Town on Tuesday morning and by 10am, the evictees’ long-term future remained uncertain.

While the national government had located a site in Blackheath, the City of Cape Town has twice requested urgent meetings with Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to plot the correct legal process.

In a letter on Monday, mayor Patricia de Lille pleaded: “It needs to be stressed that there are a number of statutory processes governed by, amongst others, the Less Formal Township Establishment Act and the National Environmental Management Act, that need to be complied with before people are simply moved on to a site of this nature. In this particular instance, there would be a need for rezoning approval and for an environmental assessment.

“Included within these processes would be the related requirement for some form of public participation.

“It must be stressed that the City of Cape Town is ready and willing to assist with the provision of emergency starter kits to assist those affected by the recent evictions but we can only do so in the context of the necessary legal and land use approvals.”

Yesterday, Gaylee residents stood in the rain opposite the Sanral-owned land to demonstrate their opposition to the arrival of their new neighbours. They said they had not been consulted and refused to have “squatters” in their area.

When more than 15 minibus taxis arrived carrying a loud and aggressive crowd of Lwandle evictees armed with shovels, hammers and knobkieries, the demonstration became heated.

Shirley Isaacs of Blackheath said: “We come here peacefully, with no sticks and hammers like barbarians.”

Isaacs said she feared crime would increase in Gaylee and local schools would be overcrowded.

“Our children will be coming out from school and using this road. Who knows what will happen to them, it won’t be safe for them at all. We don’t want these people here.”

Another resident, who wanted to be known only as Cathy, said it was not fair Lwandle residents were allowed to live in Gaylee free.

“We pay a R4 000 bond payment, yet my husband is unemployed. Why is it okay that others can come in this community and not pay a cent? And this will also affect our property values.”

Meanwhile, the Lwandle residents were disappointed.

University student Qamokuhle Nombluwa said she lived in Lwandle because she could not afford to register in time for student accommodation.

“I feel bad because we were relieved that we had found our own land.

“We don’t mind these Blackheath people, because if we wanted to fight them we would.”

Another resident Asanda Solani said she was tired of sleeping at the hall. “It is stressful being there because you don’t have your own privacy, nor are you ever comfortable.”

At lunchtime on Monday, Ses’khona Peoples Movement representative Khaya Kama announced the building materials would not be released.

Kama said Sisulu had asked that the materials be withheld until the situation with the Blackheath residents was resolved.

“We received a call from the minister’s office asking us to control the situation. The materials will not be released to avoid violence that might lead to it being damaged.”

Kama asked all evictees to return to the Nomzamo hall.

“After 20 years of democracy we still find coloureds refusing to live with blacks. It’s not fair,” he said of the Blackheath residents’ demonstration.

National Human Settlements spokesman Ndivhuwo Mabaya said they were considering other sites.

“The minister and Sanral are attending to the matter... A number of land options are on the table and we are working around the clock to resolve this matter.”

Cape Argus



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