Cape Town - There were cheers and jubilation at Observatory over the weekend when a group of homeless people calling themselves Singabalapha (We Belong Here) commemorated one year anniversary living in tents on the pavements after they were evicted from Arcadia Place, a building opposite Pick n Pay and KFC last year.
The group cooked and invited other homeless people from around the City for a celebration, with its chairperson Barbara Vuza saying they managed to survive even during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We also celebrate the fact that not even one of us went for quarantine. We quarantined ourselves in these tents, small as they are but they are our homes,” Vuza said.
The occupiers comprised of residents from various townships – Langa, Gugulethu, Nyanga East and Khayelitsha, however, Vuza said that prior to the Observatory occupation most of their members had been living in shacks and backyard structures for years.
“The reason why we are still here is that we want the government to see that we were not playing marbles when we said we want houses. We don’t have houses. We need houses,” she said.
Reclaim the City Woodstock Chapter leader Karen Hendricks said they came to the Singabalapha commemoration to support and to give them a message of hope.
Hendricks said like them (Singabalapha), they had also occupied a building for almost four years, and their struggles were similar.
Ahmed Kathrada House occupier Mpho Diniso said they visited Singabalapha for solidarity because they were both fighting the same struggle, “which is also occupation”.
Vuza said the group was prepared to remain outside until alternative accommodation was provided to them or a government representative came to engage with them.
Sinazo Jordan, from Singabalapha said the City’s Law Enforcement tried to remove and issue them with by-law infraction notices and allegedly threatened to remove them.
She said during lockdown, they (Law Enforcement) also arrived a few times – once with a big bus – to try and force them to go to the Strandfontein internment camp. They refused to go and instead consulted their legal representative.