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Covid informal settlement residents fight CapeNature over relocation plans

The relocation process of close to 4000 residents who erected structures on the retention dam within the Driftsands Nature Reserve has hit a snag over the responsibility to relocate these residents. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency

The relocation process of close to 4000 residents who erected structures on the retention dam within the Driftsands Nature Reserve has hit a snag over the responsibility to relocate these residents. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency

Published Jun 22, 2022

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Cape Town - The relocation process of close to 4000 residents who erected structures on the retention dam within the Driftsands Nature Reserve has hit a snag.

The residents who held a demonstration in front of CapeNature’s offices on Tuesday accused the organisation of reneging on its promise to them and are now forcing it to undertake the process.

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Close to 4000 residents received SMSes last month informing them of their relocation to an alternative site within the Driftsands Nature Reserve. However, before this could occur, numerous shacks were washed away last week when the retention dam overflowed and flooded them. This was the reason CapeNature had planned to relocate these residents.

Six community members, including one of the leaders Luthando Mcuntula, were arrested on Monday when the residents barricaded CapeNature’s gates. Police used rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse the residents.

Police spokesperson FC Van Wyk said the two men and four women between the ages 26 and 55 were charged with public violence. He said they would appear in the Blue Downs Magistrates’ Court today.

One of the community leaders who asked not to be named said no form of violence was used by the residents when they went to confront CapeNature officials.

“Our aim is for Cape Nature to release the land and undertake the process to relocate people and not self-relocation as they have now said. The houses have been flooded and this has become a matter of emergency.

“However, the problem with the relocation site is that it is not serviced and there won’t be any provision of basic services, which begs the question as to why they have to relocate us to where we have to start from scratch from working the land,” she said.

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CapeNature advocacy general manager Petro Van Rhyn said they had always maintained an open line of communication with the community and its leadership structures within Driftsands.

Van Rhyn said in recent meetings with the leadership of the settlement at Driftsands, discussions were held on pertinent points such as the status of the land as a nature reserve, its role in flood attenuation and associated flood risk.

She said the Driftsands Nature Reserve comprised wetlands, the Kuils River and its banks and flood reduction infrastructure was not suitable for human settlement and associated service delivery.

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She said the area of higher ground, identified for voluntary relocation within the nature reserve would not be serviced.

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Cape Argus

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