Residents describe life inside Isiqalo settlement

: Elsabie Jarfis, 43, her granddaughter Crystal Jarfis, 7, and Randall Anthony, 54, live in Isiqalo Informal Settlement.

Aggrieved Mitchell’s Plain residents took to the streets last week after they said they had had enough of Isiqalo informal settlement residents barring them from leaving the area during service delivery protests in Jakes Gerwel Drive.

Residents from West Cape Villas, Rondevlei, Rondevlei Park, Woodlands, Old Woodlands, Rocklands, London Village, Lentegeur West, Harmony Village and Tafelsig met with the Mitchell’s Plain United Residents’ Association (MURA) at the council’s Lentegeur administration office in response to the protest initiated by the Isiqalo residents on Wednesday May 2.

Zoraya du Plessis, 36, from Rondevlei, said she and her husband could not go to work for three days last week and that their children’s school in the area were closed.

The Du Plessis family lives in a brick and mortar separate entrance, with a bathroom, two bedrooms and a kitchen on Ms Du Plessis’s family plot.

She had to take her two asthmatic children to their grandmother in the main house because their chests were affected when the police used tear gas to disperse protesters on Jakes Gerwel Drive on Tuesday May 1.

She works for the council where the rule, no work, no pay applies.

Ms Du Plessis said her eldest, 13 years old, had to take care of her younger siblings, 10 and 3, while, she and other community workers called for calm on the streets.

“They inconvenience us by hampering us getting to work, they inconvenience our pocket and then they inconvenience our health, which is unacceptable in so many ways,” she said.

She has been on the housing waiting list since 2007.

Rashieda Hendricks, 49, from Woodlands, has been on the housing waiting list since June 30, 1992 (“Backyarders pin hopes on new development,” Plainsman February 21).

She and her husband Nazeem Meniers, 53, live in a separate entrance at her brother-in-law’s house and their children live in a room, which leaks when it rains.

Her husband had to install a toilet in the room, which does not have privacy.

Ms Du Plessis, other community workers, and representatives from Isiqalo attended a meeting facilitated by SA Human Rights commissioner Chris Nissen, on Wednesday May 2.

Monwabisi Futshane, 42, an Isiqalo informal settlement resident, apologised for the looting of an ATM, businesses and the razing of a fruit and vegetable stall on Tuesday May 1.

He said the entire settlement could not be held accountable for the few who went on a rampage.

Speaking to the Plainsman on Friday May 4, Mr Futshane said the business owners had helped residents with water while they were waiting for water and sanitation from the City of Cape Town.

He moved to the settlement on September 12, 2012 after he had lost his job and could not afford to pay rent of R300 in Philippi, where he was a backyard dweller.

“I decided to move in when I heard there was vacant land where I could put up a shack. When you lose a job you also lose your place to stay,” he said.

Mr Futshane who lives with his wife and two sons, aged 13 and 8, one of whom is deaf, said life in the settlement is very bad.

He said there are two different toilets, a portable toilet, which residents hire, and is removed weekly; and toilets on the outskirts, for which residents have to walk across plots to get to.

Mr Futshane said the chemicals in the toilet on his property was bad for his wife’s health, and that she had to walk to the toilet on the border of the informal settlement.

“There are flies, the dirt is hardly removed and the children play here,” he said.

He has been privy to several meetings with the City but they showed no interests in their lives, he said.

“We have to fight. We have to do what we have done last time and show the government we need basic services. Everything we have to demand here – the City doesn’t take us seriously,” he said.

Mr Futshane said they live side by side with “coloured” people in the settlement. He said their children play together, whereby they learn to speak English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa.

“They’ve got a lot of opportunities in life because they speak all of the languages,” he said. “I have to walk with my disabled child to Jakes Gerwel Drive, where we wait for transport because the taxi can’t come into the settlement.”

He said residents on the other side of the road were building a wall between the informal settlement and their homes.

He refuted accusations that “they have houses in the Eastern Cape”.

“If I have a house in the Eastern Cape then why must I live like this?” he asked. “I am South African, I was born here.”

Mr Futshane has been on the housing waiting list since 1999. To be on the housing waiting list, applicants cannot own property.

“When residents get a better job, they leave Isiqalo. So when they have a worse life they come to Isiqalo

“We are all South Africans. We don’t discriminate against them. We all live in harmony,” he said.

Isiqalo resident Elsabie Jarfis, 43, has been living in Isiqalo with her boyfriend and two children, aged 23 and 19, since 2011.

“Ons het op die plaas oorkant die pad, op Weltevreden Road, in Philippi gebly, maar toe dood die boer,” she said.

Both Ms Jarfis and her boyfriend Randall Anthony, 54, have had tuberculosis (TB).

Mr Anthony said it was cold living in their corrugated iron structure.

They lost their identity documents and belongings in a fire about a year ago, he said.

“Ons lewe baie swaar hier, maar wat kan ons doen?” he said.

Luvuyo Booi, 35, a father of two sons, said he set up a shack on the privately-owned land in 2012, when he worked at Westgate Mall.

Speaking to the Plainsman in isiXhosa on Monday May 7, he said: “I just found the space and decided to occupy it.”

Mr Booi said he did not agree with the violence but that they needed basic services. “It is not healthy or safe for us to live like this,” he said.

“We need a better place to stay. We need better lives,” said Mr Booi.