A handful of Bo-Kaap residents have erected shacks on an open piece of land between Voetboog Road and Military Road in protest against the new development that is under construction in Lion Street. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Children in the Bo-Kaap have taken hammer to nail alongside their parents who have erected shacks in the area as a form of protest against the lack of housing.

The shacks, which can be seen from Wale Street, were erected by fourth and fifth-generation Bo-Kaap residents who grew up in the area and now occupy congested homes, with parents, children and grandchildren living under one roof.

Some families live in the lounge area of their parents’ home while others share a room they grew up in, and now share with four or five other members of their family.

The residents, who call themselves the Bo-Kaap Disadvantaged Community, say they have been on the housing list for 20 or more years. They got together eight months ago to discuss a way to air their plight. Shahied Robain said that after long deliberation they came up with the idea of erecting shacks in protest.

Masturah Adams explains why the Bo-Kaap residents are protesting. Video: Athina May/Cape Argus

“The first shack we put up three weeks ago, and people started to join me. When there were about 20 shacks, law enforcement came and broke them down twice. I’ve been sleeping there for the last two weeks in way of protest.

“For eight months we sat on this idea; we didn’t know what to do by way of peaceful protest. I’m staying in my mother’s lounge.

“I have two kids, a wife and a grandchild. All of us are in my mother’s lounge. I grew up in Bo-Kaap, I’m born and bred here,” said Robain.

Masturah Adams, who runs the Boorhaanol Islam Movement in Bo-Kaap, said the only other option available to Bo-Kaap residents would be for them to be relocated outside of the city in areas where they won’t have access to schools or be able to work in the city centre.

“Low-cost housing must be made available for people of Bo-Kaap. If they’re located to areas outside the city, how can we be there to support them?

“The reason the tourists love Bo-Kaap is the people - our lifestyle and culture. Do we want to take that away from the people?” he asked.

“We’re creating prices for developers that are out of the reach for the people - is this class apartheid?”

Mayco member for transport and urban development Brett Herron said the City was reviewing parcels of council-owned land within the city for development. However, land in Bo-Kaap specifically was owned by the national government.

“The large suitable parcels of land, such as the farm, are owned by national government, but we had previously approached the national Housing Development Agency to seek assistance in acquiring land.”

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Cape Argus