The 'dangerous' living conditions for Imizamo Yethu residents

Asanda Busakwe. (Tammy Petersen, News24)
Asanda Busakwe. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

Cape Town – Asanda Busakwe often lies awake in the early hours of the morning, staring at the sink roof of her 3x3m shack because it is too cold to sleep.

The tiny shack in the temporary relocation area in Hout Bay has no electricity or ablution facilities. She is physically disabled and has to walk over an uneven makeshift path to leave the local sports field which has been her home for three months.

Busakwe and her mother live in one of the hundreds of structures erected by the City of Cape Town to serve as a temporary relocation area following the devastating fire in March which tore through 3 500 homes, affecting 15 000 people.

The less than ideal living situation was meant to last only three months, Busakwe said.

"But it’s July and we are still here. It’s not a nice place to stay. It’s very cold," she lamented.

Also read: We are sick and tired of waiting - Imizamo Yethu resident

Despite her disability, she has been among the masses protesting for the past three days for the City of Cape Town to give them answers after their promised homes have not yet materialised.

City officials attempted to address the hundreds of locals who had gathered in Hout Bay Main Road, but residents refused to give them an ear and demanded to speak to Mayor Patricia de Lille.

Police told community leaders that the mayor had attempted to come and address their concerns, but had been told by intelligence that the area was too volatile.

Meeting community 

De Lille, in a statement, said that while the "disruption in the community is now reaching dangerous levels", she remained "completely willing to personally go and mediate with the community to get to the bottom of their issues and to ensure that the City of Cape Town keeps to its end of the bargain regarding development in Imizamo Yethu".

"We are still trying to use all avenues to meet with community leadership to help the people of Imizamo Yethu and to make sure that the community gets the services they need as fast as possible. I am prioritising this matter and I am personally leading this and unblocking any issues," she said.

According to De Lille, community leaders have a direct line to her and regular meetings are held with the residents.

"Meetings regarding development in Imizamo Yethu are held on a weekly basis with a dedicated project team. I receive daily reports on the re-blocking project and I forward this to community leaders to ensure that they keep an eye on the development’s progress."

But for Busakwe, visible progress has been non-existent.

Rain water seeps into many of the shacks in the temporary homes, and families are forced to use candles and paraffin lamps and stoves.

Busakwe battles with asthma and the fumes affect her chest. She has invested in a gas stove and a rechargeable light which has made a dent in her pocket.

She suffered a severe spinal injury about 10 years ago after falling from a flight of stairs. After spending three years in a wheelchair, she now manages to get around with the help of a crutch.

WATCH: Cars overturned in 3rd day of Hout Bay protests

She survives on a disability grant, and the retail learnership she was part of expires in July.

Busawe said, in addition to feeling vulnerable because of her disability, she is also concerned about her safety, especially after the flood lights which light up the area were damaged during the protests.

"You can’t go out at night. If you want to go to the toilet, you need to ask someone to escort you. It’s dangerous. There are skollies," she explained.

Busakwe sorely misses her old home, where she had lived since 2006.

"It wasn’t cold there; I was safe there. I didn’t struggle to find transport because I didn’t stay far from the road.

"We need answers. When can we go back home? I am tired of waiting."

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