Community mulls way forward

2019-09-24 06:01
A burnt digger in Hangberg. (Aletta Harrison, News24)

A burnt digger in Hangberg. (Aletta Harrison, News24)

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Residents of Hangberg Hout Bay are tired of executive mayor Dan Plato’s empty promises.

So says Roscoe Jacobs of Hangberg Hout Bay Community Activists who blames the disruption caused by protests in Hout Bay last week on politicking and broken promises. Protests, which began in the early morning of Tuesday 17 September, continued throughout last week.

By Saturday 21 September unrest in the area had begun to quiet down.

According to Jacobs, the Hangberg community’s malcontent is the direct result of the City of Cape Town’s alleged failure to deliver on housing commitments set out in the Hangberg Peace Accord signed by residents of Hangberg and the City in 2010.

The accord became a High Court order granted by the Western Cape High Court in 2011.

According to the document, residents agreed they would not build or rebuild above the “sloot”. In return, the City agreed to provide housing for those who were already living there at the time of the 2010 protests.

Jacobs says very little housing development has taken place since then. He says this is the reason why residents have gone ahead to build dwellings above the sloot.

“The accord identified four parcels of land for housing development. But, in the past nine years, only 72 flats have been built in our area.

“When we break the accords, authorities are quick to take action against us, but when the City fails to deliver, nothing happens to them,” says Jacobs.

Rob Quintas, councillor for ward 74, says the City is in the process of developing two new housing projects in Hangberg. He says this is well known in the community.

“In fact, one of these protest leaders sits as a member on the Project Steering Committee,” he adds.

“The damage to property and the time lost due to the protests caused by a few disaffected persons are causing huge setbacks to the very thing they say they want to achieve.”

Jacobs also accuses the City of having double standards.

“We were told housing development couldn’t take place next to the Oceana Fishmeal plant because of health risks to the community. One of the health risks given was the fact that it operated on a 24-hour basis. But then the City goes ahead with the construction of its new electricity depot on erf 9652, land that was meant for housing. Our understanding is that electricity depots also run around the clock. So suddenly this isn’t a concern any longer,” he asks.

According to Quintas, the cost of the protests in terms of damage to public infrastructure and for those unable to get to work due to limited transport is unknown at this stage.

“The risk to local businesses, their employees and their customers is a major threat to jobs and the people of Hangberg who are dependent on these jobs if they are to have any real chance at economic development,” he says.

Since the protests began, electrification projects have been delayed, clinic services have been suspended and no further formal housing meetings could be held due to the violence.

Jacobs claims the week of protests could have been avoided had Plato agreed to meet with them on September 17. He says the peaceful protest escalated after a message from Quintas, saying Plato would only meet with them if they ceased protesting.

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