Mass iftaar as District Six residents join Bo-Kaap in gentrification fight

2018-06-09 17:21

Residents from District Six, as well as Mandla Mandela, on Friday joined an iftaar in Bo-Kaap to show their support to the community in their battle against gentrification.

Protests have been taking place in Bo-Kaap recently as locals show their dissent with the increase in rates that have been crippling them financially.

Members from the two historic communities joined in a traditional supper in the Bo-Kaap streets on Friday during Ramadaan to break the fast in solidarity.

"It went beautifully. The two communities were warmly welcomed. There are lots of family bonds," said Asa Salie who represents a civil organisation called District Six Rising.

"We joined the iftaar based on the fact that we actually have the same problem: the gentrification of the Bo-Kaap and District Six."

She added that Mandla Mandela had attended the event, with his wife and son: "He is very warm."

"So many properties are bought with euros, pounds and dollars and are now being developed... so people's rates went up. Property values are increased.

"Properties that have been owned for over a hundred years, are now sitting with exorbitant rates and taxes - and our water tariff is crazy," said Salie, speaking to News24 on Saturday following the event on Friday.

Explaining the tariff problem, she cited an example of a person in her neighbourhood, who had received a hefty water bill, running into the tens of thousands, only to discover there was apparently not even a meter attached to her property.

Friday's iftaar - a meal eaten after sunset during the month of Ramadaan – was attended by between 700 to 1000 people, Salie estimated.

It extended from Buitengracht Street all the way to Van Der Meulen Street.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who recently accepted an invitation to an iftaar in Rylands by the Muslim Judicial Council, recently acknowledged the issue of gentrification in Cape Town, which sparked protests since last month.

"We must address the sense of alienation that many people feel, as historical neighbourhoods like the Bo-Kaap face gentrification, and we must strive to ensure that District Six again becomes a vibrant centre of inclusive community life," he said at the event.

On Saturday, Salie noted the significance of the histories of both areas: District Six as the site of apartheid-era forced removals, and the Bo-Kaap as representing the slave community’s role, and their freedom, in the Cape's past.

She said that while the District Six community was still young – in that people had only recently begun returning to the area – the Bo-Kaap was a more established community. As such, they also hoped to learn how Bo-Kaap residents were coping with some of the problems arising

The overall aim was to have President Cyril Ramaphosa pledge to protect the areas as national heritage sites, against developers.

Going forward, residents would continue to protest, said Salie.

"We have placards. We will demonstrate all the time."

Read more on:    cape town  |  protests

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