08 October 2009
Anna Majavu – The Sowetan
Residents fight bid to relocate them
“WE are prepared to die rather than be moved to the city of Cape Town’s temporary relocation area.”
These are the words of a group of about 400 people who yesterday appeared
in the Western Cape high court fighting off a city bid to move them to Blikkiesdorp.
The temporary relocation area with its rows of corrugated iron one-roomed “houses” has been nicknamed Blikkiesdorp, or “Tin Can Town” by the 5000 people who currently live there.
The 400 people living in shacks built along a pavement in Delft, Cape Town, yesterday won a nine- day reprieve from eviction in the Western Cape high court.
They were living in different backyards in Delft until Democratic Alliance councillor Frank Martin unlawfully issued them with a letter authorising them to occupy newly built N2 Gateway national government houses.
A few months later they were evicted by the government, but their backyard shacks had already been rented to other tenants.
While Martin escaped serious punishment from the council, which suspended him for a month, the 500 people were left to set up home on the nearest roadside.
Yesterday local tabloid headlines screamed “Helen Zille’s Blikkiesdorp descends into a lawless hell”.
The leader of residents of Symphony Way, Roger Wicks, told Sowetan: “We are prepared to die rather than go to Blikkiesdorp.”
Wicks backed tabloid reports that Blikkiesdorp was full of drug dealers, alcoholism, and that it lacked any form of safety since police did not patrol there. He condemned Western Cape Premier Helen Zille for “using the coloured people for our votes and making us a lot of false promises about houses”.
Blikkiesdorp resident Willy Heyn said he advised people not to move to Blikkiesdorp, which had neither electricity nor street lighting, and which was 28km from the city centre.
A visit by Sowetan to Blikkiesdorp found the area in total darkness at night, and also found several families forced to share each toilet and tap.
City of Cape Town spokesperson Kylie Hatton confirmed that Eskom would not be installing electricity there until December 21.
The city’s advocate, Rob Stelzner, asked Judge Jake Moloi to hand down an eviction order suspended for nine days. Stelzner said the city was prepared to hold negotiations with Symphony Way residents during that time.
But Judge Moloi ordered the parties to negotiate and then come back to court on October 19 to argue their case in full.
It was revealed in court that the temporary relocation area, with its 1500 structures, cost the city R30million to build.