District Six backyard dwellers demand to be given houses
Cape Town - A group of protesters that have erected tents opposite the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) in District Six, demanding the government respond to their housing needs, will tomorrow mark a month since their occupation.
The groups calling themselves Social Liberals for Backyard Dwellers (SLBD) is made up of 64 families with 250 individuals who were evicted from areas including Bo-Kaap, Manenberg, Hanover Park, Mitchells Plain, Lotus River and Grassy Park. They embarked on the peaceful protest a month ago.
Social Liberals for Backyard Dwellers chairperson Sharriefa Nolan said that last year they had a peaceful march whereby a memorandum was handed over to City’s human settlements and have been waiting for a response.
“When I reminded them about their commitment for a follow-up meeting, I notified Human Settlements that we got many evicted people sleeping in cars and churches, but still no response, so we didn’t have any other choice but to come and squat here in District 6 on Human Rights Day, after a peaceful march,” she said.
Deputy chairperson Edward Botha said all the people have been on the waiting list for years with the oldest being a 72-year-old. But 18-year-olds are getting houses.
“We have to take a stand and we could not have chosen a better area than this. We moved here so that they can see that we have had enough of our dignity being taken away with false promises,” Botha said.
“We have been kicked out by our landlords since last year and have been going from place to place trying to get accommodation and we have had enough. We must be seen, we have the right to human dignity and property. It’s either we stay here or they give us some houses,” he said.
Botha said there was only one answer to the housing crisis in Cape Town – getting rid of corruption that has riddled the housing list which has left most deserving people in the lurch.
“As coloured people we have been marginalised all these years. They want us to get tired and fight among each other. This is our stand and there is more coming because more people are going to take the land,” he said.
Former backyard dweller from Grassy Park Marie Zink said: “We have been through wind and rain and our tents have been destroyed, but it is better than what we have endured as backyard dwellers.”
Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements Malusi Booi had not responded to a request for an interview by the time of publication.