'This is not a place for human beings'

2017-06-21 05:49
Blikkiesdorpis a bleak, treeless settlement near the end of the runway of Cape Town International Airport. (Ashraf Hendricks/GroundUp)

Blikkiesdorpis a bleak, treeless settlement near the end of the runway of Cape Town International Airport. (Ashraf Hendricks/GroundUp)

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Cape Town - Blikkiesdorp, also known as "Tin Can Town", is found out of sight in Delft, about a 25km drive from Cape Town’s city centre.

It was meant to be a TRA, the City’s abbreviation for Temporary Relocation Area, but it has been housing residents for ten years. According to GroundUp, it consists of 1 600 to 2 000 households living in tin shacks.

"This is not a place for human beings,” says Jane Roberts, who has been in Blikkiesdorp for eight years.

Before, Roberts was one of the Symphony Way pavement dwellers and lived for two and half years on the street.

"The road was a good place to stay," she says.

Her home in Blikkiesdorp is tiny. A double bed takes up most of the space. She says she lives in constant fear of gangsters and break-ins.

"You can't go out. You can’t leave your house," says Roberts. "People want to get out of here. They don’t want to live here. They say they don’t care where they are going to live, so long as they can get out of Blikkiesdorp.

"After eight years it’s not temporary, it's permanent," says Roberts.

Maureen Philanders previously stayed at a shelter in Cape Town but had to leave after three months. She relocated to Blikkiesdorp and thought that she would be here for only three years. She has been here for six years. She says her health is not good.

"I’m so worried because I think, where are the grandchildren and the children going to grow up?" Philanders asks. She lives with five children; one is her own child.

"You are not safe in your own shack," she says. Philander said she’d even considered moving into the Belhar graveyard.

Blikkiesdorp has no nearby hospital or police station. According to Estrolitha van Ballen, who has lived in Blikkiesdorp for seven years, the police and ambulance take a long time to arrive.

"You phone the police, but they never pick up," she says. "The crime is so high. During the night you can’t sleep. You must be alert."

We asked the City of Cape Town what plans it has for the residents of Blikkiesdorp, and if there’s a date for when they’ll be moved.

Councillor Siyabulela Mamkeli, the City's Mayoral Committee Member for Area Central, responded, "Any concrete proposals and information would be taken to the communities of Blikkiesdorp, Malawi Camp and Freedom Park first and at the appropriate time. We will follow our normal engagement processes."

Read more on:    cape town  |  housing  |  service delivery

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