Could you sleep here?

2017-07-18 06:00
Silver City temporary residential area in Hout Bay, where fire victims are housed.

Silver City temporary residential area in Hout Bay, where fire victims are housed.

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The famous saying “Don’t judge me until you’ve walked a day in my shoes or lived a day of my life” has pushed a group of “privileged” Hout Bay residents to spend 67 hours in Silver City, a temporary residential area in Hout Bay, to experience how its residents live.

The sleepover started last Friday around noon and ended yesterday at 08:00.

Silver City is where most of the fire victims are being housed whilst the City of Cape Town is busy “super blocking” in Imizamo Yethu.

After a three-day protest that shut down Hout Bay, locals had much to say about the protesters and the municipality. Some voiced their anger for the protesters, while others said the protest was justified and called on the City to deliver services to those who needed them the most.

At the same time, one group of people formed a campaign called #OneHoutBay, a social, non-political community platform to drive community cohesion and upliftment projects that focus on food security, job creation and racial cohesion through projects, events and channels.

Deon Robbertze, founder of the campaign, says they decided to spend 67 hours in Silver City to experience what the fire victims are going through there. Some of those who participated in the sleepover stayed in the shacks of residents who had travelled to the burial of the 26-year-old who was killed in the protest.

Other participants shared sleeping space with the residents.

“I took a thermometer with to get the temperature. There is no water and no electricity. They were told they would be out in July but that looks like it will not happen. So our aim is to help each other, understand each other’s problems so that we can deal with them better,” says Robbertze.

#OneHoutBay aims to help with sustainable projects in the area.

“The area has a lot of talent and skills. So this will be a social cohesion platform to push our area forward. We can all work together; we just have to be on the same page,” he says.

Welcome Witbooi, who also took part in the sleepover, says the residents of Silver City are living in terrible conditions.

“It is totally unacceptable. It was just 67 hours and it was really difficult.”

“At least the sleepover gave us an understanding of what they are going through. As the last family was going out, their little girl said it was really cold here. The five-year-old girl says she would love to come play with her friends here but she doesn’t want to sleep here again. It was really cold. Imagine these people who have to wake up and sleep here every day,” Witbooi says.

“Our challenge now to the City and mayor is to come out here and experience for herself what these people are going through. If you get a deeper understanding of the conditions, I believe the whole effort to address this will change,” he says.

The campaign organisers are starting an initiative to put pallets in the shacks to raise the floors so that the surfaces are not so cold and wet.

The next meeting of the #OneHoutBay campaign will take place on Friday.

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