But city insists Blikkiesdorp is no dump for the homeless ahead of World Cup
Apr 19, 2010 11:48 PM | By NASHIRA DAVIDS – The Times
‘Sewage seeps from drains. Children are sick’
The City of Cape Town has again come under fire for hiding its homeless from tourists on the eve of the 2010 World Cup.
UK tabloid The Sun carried an article about dozens of poor people being forced to move to a temporary settlement called Blikkiesdorp, in Delft, north of the city.
“Residents living in row upon row of three-by-six metre wood and corrugated iron huts say they are the World Cup’s shameful secret – the hungry and homeless ‘dumped’ in a makeshift tin city where football fans will not see them,” the article said.
But city media manager Kylie Hatton said the area was definitely “not being used to hide people”.
And Western Cape Premier Helen Zille told The Times: “No one is forced to stay. It is an informal settlement with full services. About 222 informal settlements have few or no services.”
In a statement, the city said: “While the Delft Temporary Relocation Area, more well known as Blikkiesdorp, has been portrayed as an area to move poor people prior to the World Cup, the City continues to receive requests from people who want to move there.”
But Blikkiesdorp residents liken it to a “concentration camp”.
Children played in puddles, prompting Alexandria Cambell, who has lived there for two years, to scream: “Get away from there!”
She told The Times the puddles were sewage water which “seeps from the drains when it rains”.
“The children are always sick here,” she said.
The little boy she yelled at responded: “I am sick already, aunty.”
Cambell said: “I was told that it would only be temporary, but here we are still. People die because it is so cold in winter and die because it is so warm in summer.
“It is like we are in a concentration camp – we are hidden from the world”.
Blikkiesdorp was established in 2008 to house illegal occupants of homes in Delft which formed part of the controversial N2 Gateway housing project. Some of its inhabitants have been on the housing waiting list for over a decade.
Blikkiesdorp is now also home to those evicted from unsafe houses, vagrants, and victims of xenophobic violence.
The city, however, insists that environmental health practitioners regularly visit the area to ensure health standards are met.
Last month Raquel Rolnick, special rapporteur on adequate housing for the UN, presented a report to the UN Human Rights Commission on the negative impact “mega-events” like the World Cup have on people’s right to proper homes.
She highlighted the case of the 20000 people evicted from the Joe Slovo informal settlement to make way for the N2 Gateway housing project.
The project, her office believes, is no more than an attempt to beautify the entrance of Cape Town for the World Cup – a claim repeatedly denied by city and national government officials.