LOOK: Blikkiesdorp residents describe the ’hellhole’ they live in
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Cape Town - Blikkiesdorp.
The Temporary Relocation Area erected in 2007, has become a haven for crime, gangsterism and squalor.
The smell of faeces from buckets that are makeshift toilets permeates the air for the 7 000 plus residents who live in 1400 zinc-like homes.
The area, which cost R30 million to construct, is home to rival gangs such as the Gifted Gang. Residents say shacks are being re-sold for between R35 000 and R80 000.
Some residents have had to bury their children, others have had daughters raped, many have been gun-pointed inside their homes. This is daily life in Blikkiesdorp. Rape, murder, vigilantism, poverty and fear has become the norm.
The City of Cape Town Human Settlements Mayco member Malusi Booi confirmed that 1 400 dwellings were still in existence after 14 years and that each dwelling erected for a qualifier cost R53 000.
In 2007, the one-room dwellings, of 18 square metres, were built and shared sanitation was provided.
Now, conditions have worsened, according to community leaders and residents.
Last month, Police Minister Bheki Cele announced the crime statistics for the first quarter of 2021 with the top 30 stations with murder. Delft was listed at number seven with 46 murders between January 2020 and March 2021.
The area has since been allocated by Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) and housing development is under way for three identified beneficiary communities such as Blikkiesdorp, Malawi Camp and Freedom.
While Steering Committee members has been part of the process of amending the initial qualifying criteria where only non-homeowners would be eligible for a home.
Now, previous homeowners who became homeless will be eligible for a plot.
Joanne Cupido lives inside a unit with her six-year-old daughter where they sleep on a bed made out of wood and bricks.
Cupido was one of nine families who fled the community in 2018 after they were attacked by vigilantes during a power struggle between leadership. She was forced to live inside a city church with her child after her home was destroyed and her belongings sold.
She has been living in Blikkiesdorp for 12 years and said homes are now being sold for thousands.
“The community came to me and told me this is not legal,” she said.
“The shacks are selling for R30 000, R40 000, to R50 000 even R80 000.
“Leaders, who cannot be named, are saying do it and give an official a part of what they get. A hokkie (wendyhouse) was sold for R35 000 last week.”
Booi said: “The units are property of the State and may not be rented out or used for any form of illegal activity.
“It is not for anyone to ‘rent’ out or 'sell'. If residents are being asked to pay for a unit in a TRA, it is illegal and it is a scam.”
Cupido said: “They (criminals) destroyed my home. I can take you now where my furniture is standing, they sold it, my lounge was R7000. I came to this home now, this is the bed my child must sleep.
“I said God just give me grace, I have been crying for help. At night, I cannot even close my eyes, I must watch and see that my child is safe.
“A couple of months ago, I was gun-pointed but no one did anything and I risk my life daily standing in the front line for this community.”
Anne Lefleur, 70, is partially blind and shares her tiny home with her 69-year-old husband, who is also partially blind.
The couple moved to Blikkiesdorp nine years ago after their home burnt down in Eerste River.
They have no identity documents or pension or disability grant and are unable to get their vaccine.
Louisa Seas, 49, the couple’s neighbour, assists them and said they even have to place their clothing inside a dirt bin for storage while the husband walks around daily looking for food.
Crime fighter and resident, Maureen “Molla” Philander, 54, has been living in Blikkiesdorp for more than a decade but has met nothing but tragedy after her two daughters, Chantal Philander, a mom of two was, murdered in 2017, and Samantha, 16, was killed in 2016.
Philander has a new worry.
She has been waiting for a toilet for four years after her home burnt down.
Philander and her only surviving daughter, who cannot be named for safety reasons, have to walk to the bush which is notorious for murders, to dump buckets of faeces despite complaints to the City.
“We have been waiting for four years for a toilet, and as you can see, these buckets (filled with human waste), we have to empty it daily in the bush and it isn't safe and even my little grandchildren, the youngest who is two-years-old, has to sit on this bucket,” she said.
“The bullets fly through these holes and the thieves steal our clothing and bags through the gaps in the sheeting.”
Booi said the housing development process was a long and tedious process that involved environmental studies and engineering.
“It is important to remember that this settlement has been decommissioned for the realignment of the airport runway by the Airports Company of South Africa,” said Booi.
“A housing development process is under way for a new formal subsidy housing development and the three identified beneficiary communities of Blikkiesdorp, Malawi Camp and Freedom Farm.”
Booi said the previous administration utilised the area to relocate residents during the 2010 Soccer World Cup. “It was subsequently used as a place of refuge and shelter for many vulnerable people, who voluntarily sought shelter.
“This is for emergency housing to help someone until they get back on their feet again or if their emergency is over.”
But despite the tight budget, residents were equipped with basic services such as health and safety and sanitation, he added.
In 2007, the area was strictly created as a TRA, a temporary relocation area with the ideology of housing for backyard dwellers and the homeless.
He explained that the City’s state-subsidised housing had a housing register which were also used to decrease the population in Blikkiesdorp. “Those who qualify for State-subsidised housing, in terms of the Housing Needs Register and Allocation Policy, receive opportunities as and when they become available.
“Approximately 190 qualifiers have benefited over the years.”
Booi said there were seven TRA’s in the Western Cape.
Funding which includes solid waste to sanitation and roads cost R53 000 per unit/house built in areas such as N2 Gateway, which were erected for beneficiary holders such as Blikkiesdorp, Booi said.
Jerome Daniels was one of the first residents to move to Blikkiesdorp is part of the Steering Committee and negotiations and planning meetings for the house and lives with ten family members inside his home.
“The old criteria has changed where only people who didn't own houses would receive property, we asked for this to be amended so that persons who did own houses and became homeless qualified for a plot,” he said.