New settlement sprouts

2016-02-23 06:00
Backyard and informal settlement dwellers have moved on to a piece of empty land in Parkwood. Since Friday evening at least 50 structures have been erected on the corner of Acacia Road and Falcon Way. Here a girl sits along Acacia Road where the illegal structures can be seen in the background.    PHOTO: Chevon Booysen

Backyard and informal settlement dwellers have moved on to a piece of empty land in Parkwood. Since Friday evening at least 50 structures have been erected on the corner of Acacia Road and Falcon Way. Here a girl sits along Acacia Road where the illegal structures can be seen in the background. PHOTO: Chevon Booysen

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A new informal settlement – Skiemsaam – has started developing in Parkwood Estate since Friday evening.

A group of incensed backyard and informal dwellers created the informal settlement on the corner of Acacia Road and Falcon Way and refused to move from the land when instructed to do so when Law Enforcement was sent to the site.

Residents who started shacking up last week say they are unhappy with the City of Cape Town’s processes that “ignored pleas for decent housing”.

Benjamin Adams, who is part of a delegation of the Parkwood Forum, says the residents are fed up of empty promises.

“This issue dates back to 2005 when Cathy’s Heights, which is also an informal settlement, motioned for this open space of land for housing. Back then we were told that a housing project would be erected and even told there was money available for the project. To this day, nothing has materialised and people are furious because of this,” Adams says.

The group of people who gathered at the newly-erected informal settlement said they would not move before authorities came out and listened to their plight.

Members of the City’s anti-land invasion unit instructed residents to demolish the structures.

“Where must these people go to if they break down these structures now? There are about 50 families that have already started building their structures since Friday evening. What will happen to the children and elderly people?” Adams asked, while residents cheered him on.

Adams adds that the unit communicated to the Parkwood Forum that the structures were built illegally and they received instruction to demolish the site immediately.

“Now why did the authorities not come out and speak to us? Our own ward councillor was contacted but she refuses to engage us and that is unfair. We want our plights to be heard but all they want to do is demolish without listening to us. We want our mayor here and we want the councillor here,” he says.

Adams, who also moved onto the vacant piece of land with his girlfriend and son, says they have been on a waiting list for housing before other informal settlements came into the area. 

“But we are not getting any answers when we follow up about how far on the waiting list we are. Informal dwellers who lived in Zilleren Heights, an informal settlement that came after Cathy’s Heights, has all received homes and they are living in Pelican Park now. So what about us? Why are we not being seen?” he further questions.

Voice of Parkwood chairperson Paul Phillips says “this issue has reached boiling point.”

“This situation here is due to negotiations that took place long ago and to date, no answers were given. These people are now fed up because their needs and concerns are not being addressed. This was now the only way that they could get the attention of the mayor for housing,” Phillips says.

Phillips said during communications between the delegation on the Parkwood Forum and the mayor’s office the action was considered “illegal”.

“This is now illegal land invasion and she ordered the Anti-Land Invasion Unit to come out to the area and demolish the structures. However, we have communicated with the mayors office to come to some sort of solution to deal wit this peacefully. We do not want the people to take a violent stance and they have been very cooperative so far,” he says.

Ward councillor Melanie Arendse says what was being done is “illegal”.

“People who have been occupying the land since last week are residents of Cathy’s Heights. They motioned for a housing project previously and they want it to be tabled with the City again. But taking the land the way they are doing now is illegal,” she says.

A meeting with a group of officials from the City of Cape Town was planned on Monday. However, it could not be confirmed if the meeting took place by the time of going to print.


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