‘We are not going anywhere’

Forty five people who live in a dilapidated area on erf 1212 in Strandfontein say they’re not going anywhere. They’re living without electricity or ablution facilities.

Forty five people who live in a dilapidated area on erf 1212 in Strandfontein, which has been earmarked for housing, say they’re not going anywhere.

Mike Van Rooy, chairman of the elders council of the Mitchell’s Plain Aboriginal Khoi and San council, and Marshall Petersen, chairman of the Mitchell’s Plain Aboriginal Khoi and San council showed the Plainsman around the broken down buildings on Wednesday July 13.

The families moved into the space on Wednesday March 2 and on Saturday March 5 the City’s Law Enforcement broke down their structures and the roof over the toilets they made use of. They now live in a delapidated structure and the City of Cape Town has subsequently charged them for land invasion.

The children, women and elderly are most affected, said Mr Van Rooy, and he would like to see the City take responsibility.

“It’s winter. The City broke down the roof, the house is dilapidated. Initially it was rife for robbing, people were raped and murdered in this home before,” he said, claiming that the City had come without a court order.

Mike Van Rooy, chairman of the elders council of the Mitchell’s Plain Aboriginal Khoi and San council stands in front of the delapidated structure where the toilets are.

“They come here often to ask who’s here. The City is insensitive. There is no electricity in this place. They’re also seeing to a sick child who needs to have access to Red Cross Hospital as his lungs are weak,” he said.

Shanaaz Adams, 40, who is among those who live in the house, said she will not move.

Some of the families sitting in their front room.

During lockdown, she said, those living there, who had previously been backyard dwellers, had lost their homes. “This is due to the government. We lost our jobs. What must I do with my children? We are not animals, we are human beings,” she said.

“The City doesn’t look after us. When we want to take back our land then they don’t want us to claim it. They don’t care about the people on the ground. If they thought about us, they would have fixed our toilets,” said Ms Adams.

“We are not going anywhere,” she said.

“We’re all unemployed working from Sassa and grant money. We’ve added our grant monies to fix the roof. They came and took down the roof,” said Ms Adams.

Another occupant, Michelle Hughes, 54, said she’s been on the housing waiting list for 30 years.

“The City doesn’t want to give me a home. I’m not going anywhere. Why does the government give houses to others but we are not considered yet? It’s wrong,” she said.

Because they don’t have toilets, she makes use of a plastic basin which is unhygenic, she said.

Mr Van Rooy said they are fighting to claim ownership of erven 1212, 1213 and 21168, but have not had a response from the City on this.

“We’re saying for this cause we’re prepared to die. What about the young people, where are their lands? The land is there and the land is ours. We will take the land,” he said.

Valerie Klaasen, 63, also and occupant of the delapidated structure, said she was running out of time. “I can’t wait 30 years for a house. My husband and I must stay here. I can’t get to the toilet. I’m not young anymore. They must think of us. I’m not going anywhere.”

Lekisha Merino, 15, one of the youngsters living on the site, said because they had no electricity, their education was being negatively affected.

“We come out of school, we can’t study, we can’t watch TV. We failed. We didn’t have time to study. At night we’re not able to study. We need to use candles,” she said.

Wayne Dyason, spokesperson for the City’s Law Enforcement said the City had conducted about three operations dring which they removed incomplete structures were removed because the land had been illegally occupied, and in terms of the court order which prohibits unlawful occupation of this City-owned property.

The City was within its rights to protect its unoccupied land, he said.

“For safety reasons, the City won’t condone unlawful occupation of dilapidated buildings as it poses a safety risk to the unlawful occupiers – particularly the elderly and the children,” said Mr Dyason.

Malusi Booi, mayoral committee member for human settlements said the City’s human settlements directorate hadn’t been served with any court orders by this group. The matter had been mentioned by a representative of the Khoi and San Council at a public meeting on Wednesday July 13, he said, but no further correspondence had been received.

“Erf 1212 is owned by the City, reserved for the human settlements department. That department is responsible for management and maintenance of the site, which is vast and not all of it is well suited to the development of housing,” he said.

“For this reason, Human Settlements initiated a framework study to determine the best possible use for the site; be it housing or otherwise. It was presented to gain input from the public on Wednesday June 22 and again on Wednesday July 13,” he said (“Draft framework for ERF 1212 leaves Strandfontein residents frustrated” Plainsman, June 22).

“The framework concluded that approximately 750 housing opportunities of various housing models would be appropriate for the site at the current time.

“Residents of informal settlements on the site will be considered as the primary beneficiaries for this project, noting that they must be registered on the City’s Housing Needs Register in order to be considered for a housing opportunity,” said Mr Booi.