Cape Town - Last week about 800 families were evicted from shacks in Lwandle in a bitter spell of winter weather. On Monday, in equally foul weather, they found no welcome from their new neighbours when they arrived at the Blackheath site earmarked for their new 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 been camping, because their building materials were not on their way.
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 about the relocation of the Lwandle evictees 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 that Lwandle residents were allowed to live in Gaylee for free.
“We pay 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.”
At lunchtime Ses’khona Peoples Movement representative Khaya Kama announced that the building materials would not be released.
Kama said national Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe 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 material will not be released to avoid violence that might lead to it being damaged.”
Kama asked all evictees to return to the taxis and head back to the Nomzamo Hall in the Strand where they have been staying since Sanral and police demolished their shacks last week.
He said the Blackheath residents’ demonstration was politically motivated. “After 20 years of democracy we still find coloureds refusing to live with blacks. It’s not fair.”
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 Town mayor Patricia de Lille called for an urgent meeting with Sisulu to discuss alternative sites.
“A number of statutory processes 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 (as well as) some form of public participation.”
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. We are just respecting Ma Sisulu now.”
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.”
Last week, people from Siyanyanzela Village were evicted from a Sanral site that is to be used to reroute the N2.
The eviction followed an interim Western Cape High Court order granted to Sanral in January. In the chaos of the evictions, 10 residents were arrested and several shacks were burnt down.