Families who fled Blikkiesdorp ask City of Cape Town for help

2018-10-17 09:02
Nine families that fled Blikkiesdorp have been living in the Central Methodist Mission Church. (Ashraf Hendricks, GroundUp)

Nine families that fled Blikkiesdorp have been living in the Central Methodist Mission Church. (Ashraf Hendricks, GroundUp)

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Families who fled Blikkiesdorp last week have sent a lawyer’s letter to the City of Cape Town to ask the authorities to find alternative accommodation for them, or else they will take the matter to court, GroundUp reports.

Nine families were forced to vacate their homes in Blikkiesdorp on Wednesday evening, after threats were made by other residents. Some of them are members of the old Blikkiesdorp Joint Committee (BJC).

One of the residents who was expelled last week - and who is currently living at the Central Methodist Mission Church in central Cape Town with more than 30 other residents - Etienne Claasen, said: "This whole thing ultimately lies with the City, because they are the ones who evicted us from the very beginning and brought us to Blikkiesdorp, which they said would be for a year. But it is now 10 years since we have been staying in Blikkiesdorp."

Claasen said that, together with Right2Know, they had sent a letter to the City, asking it to find them alternative accommodation. The letter asks the City to urgently:

• Reinstate the homes in which they lived until they were dispossessed or, alternatively, provide the families with alternative safe accommodation by Wednesday, October 17;
• Ensure that the families are able to access and complete the subsidy forms that are going to be distributed in Blikkiesdorp on October 20, 2018;
• Bring eviction proceedings against alleged unlawful occupiers of the families’ homes;
• Secure Blikkiesdorp and ensure the safety and security of all of its lawful residents;
• Take steps to ensure that Blikkiesdorp is effectively policed against criminal acts of violence and vigilantism;
• Take measures to remove the conflict of interests within the steering committee and restore the steering committee to a meaningful and effective tool for the benefit of all of the listed beneficiaries of the Symphony Way Scheme.

Alison Tilley, of the Open Democracy Advice Centre, who works closely with the residents of Blikkiesdorp, said: "Blikkiesdorp was established by court order. The City is under obligation to accommodate them."

Read: Residents forced to flee Blikkiesdorp amid racial tensions

'This is a fight against crime'

But a resident, who spoke to GroundUp on condition of anonymity, gave a different account to that of the people who fled to the church. He said what had happened in Blikkiesdorp had nothing to do with race, but was about crime.

"I do not understand why these people keep playing the race card. If anything, the coloured and blacks are working together. This is a fight against crime. The BJC members were not chased away. They left voluntarily.

"As a community, only two people were chased out of Blikkiesdorp. Those two people were chased out because one of them’s son-in-law was a well-known gangster around here and he was feared, and she harboured him.

"The second person was chased out because she is close friends with the woman whose son-in-law is a gangster. The rest of the families who left, were not chased away. They were standing with the two that were chased away," said the resident.

Read more: Cold and leaking shacks: The long wait for brick houses for the people of Blikkiesdorp

Regarding infighting in the BJC, the resident said a decision had been taken by the community to disband the previous BJC because it was not inclusive. "A new committee has been formed which is more inclusive to everyone and all races, and it does not have a name yet. It is a committee that represents everyone in Blikkiesdorp."

The resident said, after a public meeting on Saturday, the community had no problem with letting those who left come back, as long as they did not come back with the two residents who were chased away.

The families who have sought shelter in the Methodist church said they would be there until Wednesday, and after that they did not know where they would go. The letter to the City states that, "of their nine homes in Blikkiesdorp left by the families, four have subsequently been destroyed by criminals… and the remaining five have been unlawfully occupied".

Claasen said they could not return to Blikkiesdorp, as it was not safe for them.

Read more on:    city of cape town  |  cape town  |  housing

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