Nadine Watson (A Gift from God)

8 03 2009

Nadine was born on the 24th of October 2008 with down-syndrome as well as a leaking heart.

On Monday, the 23rd of February, she had a heart operation which lasted about 6 hours. At that time, I just prayed for my child to come out of the operating theatre alive. Through God’s will and t he prayers of the Symphony Way residents, my child came home today the 5th of March 2009. As a resident on Symphony Way, I believe that through the grace of God my family and I will receive a house.

To the government out there, please listen to your plea and the plea of our children. We can’t be evicted twice! Our children have been traumatised too many times.

Please help my daughter by getting us legal help so that we do not have to go to Blikkiesdorp TRA.

Washiela Watson

To contact Washiela, please call Jane Roberts at 0784031302

Police threaten, assault Symphony Way residents and two Americans, arrest one

10 12 2008
Delft Anti-Eviction Campaign Press Statement
Wednesday 10 December, 2008

Earlier today at around 17h15, police officer De Vos of the Delft police station along with 4 other officers entered Symphony Way and began verbally swearing at and abusing residents. The majority of residents were in a workshop led by an American from a children’s NGO. When Jane Roberts came outside the office where the workshop was taking place, De Vos immediately began threatening Auntie Jane with arrest. He told her quote: “I am going to moor you” and “I will lock you up” and a number of other words inappropriate to publish. He was clearly picking on Aunty Jane because of past instances in which she has opposed his abuse of the community.

Two Americans were also present. The one is the Executive Director of a children’s NGO and the other an American journalist. When they both began documenting the abuse on their cameras and phone, police immediately began threatening to confiscate their cameras and arrest them. A woman police officer then came and slapped the one American and threw his camera to the ground. Police left at around 18h00 once other police officers arrived at the scene.

Then, at 20h00, De Vos came back with his crew and arrested resident Roger Wicks who had nothing to do with the previous incident. He has now been charged with swearing at police and malicious damage to property.

Tomorrow, residents, along with the two Americans, will attempt to lay a charge at the Delft police station against De Vos and the other four police officers on duty.

This is not the first incident of police abuse. There have been over 10 incidents since February 2008 including on 30 October 2008 and 4 October 2008 and 29 June, 2008 and 25 February 2008.

There was also the many instances of brutality during the 19th of February evictions. Documentation includes: (a) Star article: Delft refuse, resist eviction, (b) video by a bystander, (c) video by eTV and (d) photos

For more information, contact Ashraf 076 186 1408 and Auntie Jane 078 403 1302
For statements from the two Americans, contact Matt at 071 422 3515 and Jay at 076 512 5677

Media: Street children document their lives

13 10 2008
AEC Note ~ The Heart of Struggle: A Pavement Exhibition, was a successful event for visitors.  But most of all, it was successful for the children of Symphony Way who used it as a way to document all aspects of their lives including their struggle for houses.

Poverty is political! Aluta Continua!
October 13 2008 at 06:19PM
By Francis Hweshe
Source: Cape Argus

More than 100 children living on the pavement in Symphony Way in Delft have called upon the government to respect their rights and provide them with decent shelter.

In the past week, the children spent time with Antonio Angelucci, a freelance photographer from Italy, who taught them to photograph their own lives living with their families on the pavement.

“The idea is for the children to have fun while they document their lives,” said Angelucci.

For the past eight months, 139 families have been staying on the pavement after being evicted from the N2 Gateway houses they had occupied.

On Sunday the children held their first pavement photography exhibition dubbed: A pavement exhibition, the heart of struggle.

Through pictures, letters and narratives, hung on the barbed wire fence separating them from the houses from which they were evicted, the children reflected on the trauma, pain and suffering they and their parents had endured as a result of the forced eviction.

Some of the pictures they took were of city authorities who they accused of demolishing a neighbour’s shelter two weeks ago.

Other pictures and stories reflected some lighter moments the close-knit community has experienced while living on the pavement. The children said life was more difficult during the cold rainy winter season as their shelters were cold and they struggled to keep warm.

“I don’t think it is fair for people to be on the road. Grannies and grandpas are getting sick on the road. Two grannies have already died, while waiting for houses and one of them is mine,” wrote Lee-Andre Johnson, who is in grade one.

“Its bad for us here, we need better shelter,” Johnson told the Cape Argus.

“My first day in Symphony Way was like living in a camp.

“It was hard settling down because everything was in a mess.

” People were worried and did not know where they were going to sleep,” wrote Nimco Hir, 8.

Ashraf Cassiem, a spokesperson for the Anti-Eviction Campaign who attended the exhibition, said it was important for children to grow up understanding the issues that affected their lives.

Cape town Freedom Song

31 08 2008
By Luke Zandstra (12 Years old)
Mowbray Cape Town

I was walking down the road,
When I saw a big  truck’
It was tearing down the houses and covering me with muck
I turned around a corner and saw them cutting down the trees
And then I saw some animals whose eyes were full of tears

They are tearing down the houses and cutting down the trees
Please look around I’m begging on my knees

Cape town was our city but it is no more
The wealthy ones have taken it and are sending out the poor
So give us back our city and the dignity of all

They are tearing down the houses and cutting down the trees
Please look around I’m begging on my knees

Cape town should be all of ours
And greed should be seized
Please look around I’m begging on my knee

Newfields Village children at risk after housing company leaves area strewn with hazardous rubble

13 08 2008

Press Alert
Wednesday August 13th 2008 at 3:30pm

HANOVER PARK – The Newfields Village community is angry that their children have been placed at risk by the Cape Town Community Housing Company (CTCHC).

The CTCHC is currently working in the area, having been forced to spend millions of rands on repairing all the faults it created by using substandard material to build the houses of Newfields Village some years ago.

However, the CTCHC is not removing the rubble after they finish working. Window frames and broken glass is strewn all over the community and this is extremely hazardous.

When the Anti-Eviction Campaign (AEC) asked CTCHC Project Manager Mdumiso Jikela to remove the rubble in a meeting this morning, he said that if children cut their feet open, it is not his problem.

“The CTCHC is again taking us, the community, as scrap” said the AEC’s Gary Hartzenberg.

The community is also at risk from the cheap window latches that the CTCHC is installing.

The latches are made of plastic, not metal and in three houses, thieves have already broken in simply by breaking off the latches.

The CTCHC has not learnt its lesson – it used substandard material to build houses for the poor and was then forced, after a long struggle by the community, to repair all the houses. But now it is doing the same thing all over again.

The AEC demands proper window frames and latches in all the houses.

For more information contact Gary Hartzenberg on 072 3925859

QQ Section in ‘Litsha takes up tools

10 07 2008
10/07/2008 09:57 AM
Source: CityVision-WC

THE hall was packed on Saturday when the community of QQ Section in Khayelitsha launched their organisation called Abahlali baseMjondolo, the South African shack dwellers’ movement.

Abahlali was established in Durban, early in 2005. Abahlali have democratised the governance of many settlements, stopped evictions in a number of settlements, won access to schools, stopped the industrial development of the land promised to Kennedy Road, forced numerous government officials, offices and projects to “come down to the people” and mounted vigorous challenges to the uncritical assumption of a right to lead the local struggles of the poor in the name of a privileged access to the global movement, according to a statement. Read the rest of this entry »

Abahlali baseMjondolo: ‘a home for all’

1 07 2008
QQ Section Press Statement and AGM Invitation
2nd July, 2008

Event: QQ Section Annual General Meeting
Date: 5 July, 2008
Time: 12h00-16h00
Venue: QQ Section Community Crèche
RSVP and directions: 073-256-2036

At 12h00 on Saturday, 5th of July, 2008, the abahlali of QQ Section in Khayelitsha will hold an Annual General Meeting to approve the launch of Abahlali baseMjondolo of the Western Cape. The event will be held at the new QQ Community Crèche that was built and funded by abahlali.

QQ Section residents have been living under appalling conditions for more than 20 years. Even the advent of our so-called democracy has been meaningless to abahlali (residents) of QQ. For us, all the rights to basic services, land, and safety which are stipulated in our country’s constitution, signify a democracy on paper but not in our everyday lives. In QQ Section, we are 620 families who have no access to electricity, no toilets except a nearby field, no sanitation system, and only 8 water taps to share between over 3,000 abahlali.

But because we have been ignored for too long, QQ Section will soon vote to officially join Abahlali baseMjondolo (the South African Shackdwellers Movement). The purpose of joining AbM, a movement that began in the Durban jondolos, is to ensure that all the rights of people living in informal settlements are being recognised, respected, and listened to by those in positions of authority (the government, NGOs, and the private sector). In short, AbM exists to ensure that no one but ourselves speak for ourselves and no one but ourselves govern ourselves.

An additional aim of this shackdweller’s movement is to build relationships between informal settlements and to explore alternatives to the current developmental approach to government. We will appose the forced removals of our communities and top-down housing policies of government officials.

Abahlali baseMjondolo, which has been working with QQ Section for four years now, was originally launched in 2004 from Kennedy Road in Durban, has now become one of the leading social movements in the country. AbM is not a political party and does not have any working relationship or affiliation with any political party or vanguard organisation.

For this landmark event, representatives from Abahlali baseMjondolo will be coming all the way from Durban to support residents. Other social movements such as AbM’s alliance partner, the Anti-Eviction Campaign, will be attending and bringing the support of their respective communities.

The Mayor Helen Zille has been invited to attend along with the local ward councillor and housing MEC Richard Dyantyi. Their authority to speak for the poor will be challenged by abahlali. Also, all government officials who attend will be handed memorandums about the issues affecting our community. Dan Plato, Mayoral Committee Member for Housing has been asked to engage on the following issues raised by abahlali:

  1. Relocation of QQ Section residents
  2. Time-lines regarding housing issues
  3. Declaring QQ Section as ‘in-situ upgradeable’
  4. The city’s immediate intervention plans for this years winter floods

In addition to government officials, a number of NGOs, academics, and well-wishers will be invited to attend, listen to and learn from abahlali. They will not be permitted to speak; the AGM is a space for the community to speak and teach. In the next few months, QQ Section is planning on building more crèches, youth centres and toilets to improve the lives of residents. For this purpose, the community requests that each individual whose attendance is accepted, make a donation to the community as well as bring along one of their favorite books to help us with our new community library.

For further details, directions and donation instructions, please contact Mzonke Poni, QQ Section Community Committee Chairperson @ 073-256-2036

For more information on QQ Section, click here.