Cape Town - Residents of Bo-Kaap have taken to the streets to protest against tourists and further development in their area, saying it is driving out locals who can no longer afford to live in the historical neighbourhood.
On Monday and Tuesday at 5pm, more than 100 residents burnt tyres at the intersection of Wale and Buitengracht streets in the city centre, blocking traffic into the area.
Black smoke from the tyres drifted into the towering Hilton hotel on the corner.
The group says they want Bo-Kaap to be declared a national heritage site, a process that has been going on for years.
Residents say the City of Cape Town is giving property developers the go-ahead at their expense.
They did not identify any specific developments taking place currently.
The protesters stood calmly around their large bonfires, started by about 20 young men, while several men and women were holding placards, as police kept close watch.
One woman’s placard read “City in Cahoots with Developers”.
A member of the community, who did not want to be named, says Bo-Kaap is unique and a popular tourist destination.
“We, as a community who live in Bo-Kaap, are being ignored. This is a heritage site, but every day, property is being bought by businesses,” he says.
“We are tired of people ruining our home. We want peace and we want to live here without being afraid that tour buses will enter. The tourists block our streets and we are not gaining financially from them being here.”
A pensioner, who has lived in the area all her life, said developers are pricing them out of their homes: “The area is becoming too expensive. We get R1 700 pension and R1 200 is for levies (rates, water, electricity). How can I live on R500?”
Osman Shaboodien, from the Bo-Kaap Civic Association, said the area is at risk of losing its history.
“The developments by the people buying up land here is overcrowding the area and it is stripping our area of its uniqueness.
“We want the Bo-Kaap to remain as is, and given its title as a heritage site,” he said.
Bo-Kaap already enjoys heritage protection as a Grade 1 resource, which means it is of national heritage significance.
The City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Transport and Urban Development, Brett Herron, said he was not aware of any new development earmarked for Bo-Kaap and referred queries to Stuart Diamond, Mayco Member for Assets and Facilities Management.
Diamond did not reply to queries.