Cape Town - Shack dwellers on the fringe of Siqalo, off Vanguard Drive, say they live in constant fear of boulders and building rubble flattening their homes.
On the informal settlement’s southern boundary a mound of rubble, 8m high and about 100m long, has already caused dozens of people to abandon their shacks – with the remnants of these still visible among the dumped rubble.
But neighbouring landowner Faizel Jappie, who offered his plot for construction companies to dump on free of charge, says that these shacks were erected on his land and that the dumping is legal. Working in a digger for hours each day, Jappie has been shifting dumped rubble for more than a year to construct an L-shaped mound which he claims to be necessary for “protection” and “safety” from the shack dwellers.
Siqalo community chairman Thobile Dyantyi said it was he and his neighbours who needed protection from Jappie – who apparently refuses to meet the community to discuss the effects of the dumping.
Dyantyi further claimed that the growing mound of rubble extended well beyond the boundaries of Jappie’s plot, Dagbreek Farm.
Last week, Dyantyi took the Cape Argus on a tour of the area and households most affected by the dumping. One such household is the shack where 22-year-old Likhiwe Mqukuse lives with her two sons, aged 3 and 5. She showed the Cape Argus patched-up holes where boulders had come smashing through the wall facing the mound.
“It makes me very afraid, because if one of those rocks hits at the wrong place at the wrong time then it could kill one of the boys,” she said.
Yet, being unemployed and without access to land or money required to erect a shack elsewhere, she maintained there was no option but to stay on and hope for the best.
“This is a serious risk to people’s health and safety,” said Dyantyi.
“We feel that the council or government need to take this matter on. Surely it cannot be legal for trucks to dump rubble on people’s homes like this?”
Dyantyi also reminded that, although Siqalo was founded on private property, the future of the informal settlement (whether people are allowed to stay on) was subject to the outcome of a case currently before the Western Cape High Court.
“Therefore, the people who are living here now have a right to do so until the court rules,” he said.
The Cape Argus posted queries about the dumping to the City of Cape Town. Benedicta van Minnen, mayoral committee member for health, referred the queries to the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning. At the time of going to print, Environmental Affairs spokesman Rudolf van Jaarsveldt had confirmed that the department would be “conducting a site inspection to determine whether or not any legislation has been contravened”.
Meanwhile, Jappie remains convinced that the dumping is taking place above board and within the confines of his property. “This mound is the only way to protect my family and my business,” he said.