Residents up in arms

2018-05-08 06:01
Residents from the Kalbaskraal informal settlement in Lotus River met with Councillor Patricia van der Ross on Thursday to register on the City’s housing database.PHOTO: Earl Haupt

Residents from the Kalbaskraal informal settlement in Lotus River met with Councillor Patricia van der Ross on Thursday to register on the City’s housing database.PHOTO: Earl Haupt

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The situation at the Kalbaskraal informal settlement in Lotus River remains tense after protest action in the area last week.

The protest took place at the intersection of Third Avenue and Lake Road, where angry residents burnt tyres and parts of an informal fence dismantled by the City of Cape Town’s Law Enforcement Anti-land Invasion Unit on Thursday morning.

Residents say they protested to get the councillor to provide fencing to enclose the area to keep their children safe, while formal housing was also on the agenda.

“They just came this morning and demolished the fencing in a very disorderly way. The law enforcement and anti-land invasion department came. After a while Mr Phillip Bam came here to talk to us and we asked him to get the councillor and everything else. The main problem here is lack of housing opportunities. There were many promises which the Mayor also made to us, but they are not honouring those promises. To us it feels as if we were dumped here. Everyone who comes here tells us something different, but then they just disappear. This has been going on for a very long time and nothing has been done about it,” says Mieta Benjamin, a resident in the area for 45 years.
Benjamin says her friend’s child was killed by a car in February.

“We have been asking the councillors for housing all these years and we have also been fighting for a fence for our safety, because there have been many shootings. Now, because nobody came back to us with any feedback, they decided to do something about it themselves just to get them to erect a fence to keep the children safe.”

Benjamin explains that the poor living conditions contribute to the prevalence of diseases such as TB, citing inadequate material provided to rebuild residents’ shacks.

“I feel they need to just do everything properly and build the houses so that they can be rid of the problem. If we did not protest this morning, then none of the other things would have happened.” she explains.

Grassy Park community policing forum spokesperson Phillip Bam met with residents to help dissolve the tension on Thursday.

“The (City) council had made promises to the people years ago and they should come out to solve these problems, because it is going to lead to more protests. People are so fed up now that they really want the council to sort out its problems,” he says.

Bam also appealed to residents to allow the processes in place to run their course.

“The second thing is that I tried to impress on the people there on Thursday is that burning things and destroying and damaging infrastructure is not useful or helpful and that there are different ways in which we should be dealing with things. Of course they have tried the different ways, but it did not seem to work. My appeal is that we got the councillor out to talk to them and there is a process underway now,” he explains.

Councillor for the area, Patricia van der Ross, met with the residents later on Thursday to smooth over relations and register those not yet on the City’s housing database.

“Before they (the City) get started on this, we are looking at getting all of them (the residents) registered first so that when they do go on the database, they are going to search for the area and these people’s names will come up,” says Van der Ross.

She helped the residents with housing appications and measurements for fencing were done. A contractor will visit the area today for further consultation. In the meantime a temporary fence is being erected, she says.


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