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4000 residents settled within the Driftsands Nature Reserve are to be relocated

Covid informal settlement within the Driftsands Nature Reserve. Picture: Supplied

Covid informal settlement within the Driftsands Nature Reserve. Picture: Supplied

Published May 31, 2022

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Cape Town - More than 4 000 residents from the Covid informal settlement in Driftsand who erected structures on the retention dam wall in the Driftsands Nature Reserve will be relocated to an alternative site in time for the rainy winter season.

The residents received notices last week giving them until June 25 to relocate from the land which belongs to CapeNature. The area is one of the informal settlements established during the pandemic and is grappling with the provision of basic services.

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However, community leader Luthando Mcuntula said they were not satisfied with how CapeNature is dealing with the issue.

“We had a verbal agreement last year in December with CapeNature that the relocation site would be levelled before the residents are moved.

“We also made them aware that the cheap building materials used are weak and can’t withstand having to be used on more than one occasion, as a result of constant relocation.

“We then requested for the provision of building materials and transportation, considering that most of these affected residents are women, some disabled, elderly, and are unemployed,” he said.

However, Mcuntula said their concern was that when the affected residents were relocated they would not have access to basic amenities.

“We are told they are moved temporarily due to the danger posed by the current location. However, because there won't be any basic services provided where they would be relocated poses more danger to them as they would be forced to use candles and paraffin which puts them at risk of having their shacks burnt.

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“We have also had instances where, as a result of lack of ablution services residents dug holes where after a rainfall these fill up and resulted in kids falling into them. This would mean the relocated residents would be subject to these risks once more,” he said.

Mcuntula said in the meantime they had directed the residents to remain in the area until these are ironed out.

CapeNature spokesperson Nathan Adriaanse said they commenced with SMS messaging to just short of 4 000 residents last week. He said this message would be communicated weekly for the next five weeks.

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Adriaanse said an alternative site in the Driftsands Nature Reserve had been identified for relocation.

“Residents illegally occupying the Driftsands Nature Reserve have erected structures on the retention dam wall, this places them at risk should we get a significant amount of rainfall over a sustained period.

“The Driftsands Nature Reserve is not suitable for human settlement and is comprised of wetlands, the Kuils River and its banks, and flood reduction infrastructure.”

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Adriaanse said CapeNature could not offer assistance to these residents.

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Cape Argus

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