Tensions simmering in settlement

2018-05-22 06:00

A meeting which was supposed to have taken place between residents of the Kalbaskraal informal settlement and the City of Cape Town has been postponed indefinitely.

This follows tensions in the area a few weeks ago which resulted in the intersection of Third Avenue and Lake Road being blocked off by burning debris (“Residents up in arms”, People’s Post, 8 May).

Community leader for the area, Mieta Benjamin, is disappointed in the way the meeting was postponed and the way this was communicated to the residents.

“The thing that upset us was that we don’t appreciate being treated the way we are being treated. You don’t make promises of a meeting which is supposed to take place on a specific day and then don’t let us know why the meeting got cancelled. That basically got us upset.

“The councillor called me to arrange a meeting for today (Tuesday), but then there must also be the decency to let us know again to inform us that something happened and that the meeting was cancelled so that we can have an understanding to have it another day. We would have understood, but nobody came to us,” says Benjamin.

However, councillor for the ward, Patricia van der Ross, says that due to unforeseen circumstances, the bulk of the meeting could not take place, but that one aspect of the overall situation was dealt with.

“The contractor was out there on Tuesday to do the final measurements for the fencing which is going up in the next couple of weeks. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the one official’s father fell ill, so he ended up going straight to hospital instead of to the meeting. The one who is actioning the fence still went out, because there are two issues we are dealing with: one is the housing issue and the other one is the fence. The process is ongoing, so final measurements were taken. They said that they are going to communicate with Mieta with regard to progress. In two or three weeks, four at the latest, the fence will go up,” Van der Ross explains.

Meanwhile, Benjamin says that had police not intervened, the residents were poised to disrupt the area again, but after speaking to Van der Ross’s assistant and the police, chaos was averted.

“We were poised to block off the road again, but it didn’t happen, because the police came out before it could happen. But the point is that a lot of people stayed out of work in order to attend this meeting and they were never notified of the cancellation,” she says.

Despite the latest developments, Benjamin does not hold too much expectation after initially feeling hopeful of change.

“There was a little hope for us; we all felt that something was going to happen and that this is the way forward, but now again we as if we are getting cut off and the same things (of the past) are starting to happen. Something must be done. I was told that there will be a meeting arranged for us with those who are directly at the top,” adds Benjamin­.

She admits that she is glad that a dialogue exists and some explanations are at least being given.

“What happened here this morning, everything didn’t turn out the way we expected and it looked like it was going to get out of control,” Benjamin says.

Van der Ross says she is waiting for the go-ahead to reschedule the meeting, which relates to housing for the area.

“As soon as I get the call I can set up a date on a Tuesday or a Wednesday. I don’t have a confirmed date for it now, because I have not spoken to the official yet.”

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