Two demonstrations took place on the City of Cape Town’s proposed emergency housing site above the cemetery on Hout Bay Road this morning.
Earlier, a group of Hughenden and Meadows residents gathered to protest the felling of trees on the proposed site for 200 households displaced by the March 11 fire that left more than 10 000 people destitute. While the City has said it is in its rights to cut down the trees, citing that they are an invasive species, these residents believe this to be a “thin excuse” and the move is designed to go ahead with the emergency housing site.
A window for residents to lay objections to the site closed on September 15, and these are now being considered.
However when word spread that the Hughenden and Meadows residents intended preventing the parks department from felling the trees, a group of about 150 Imizamo Yethu community leaders and residents descended on the site, occupying the land, singing and toyi-toying.
Imizamo Yethu Movement leader Mhululi Ndude said displaced residents had been given the land by the City.
“We are desperate for land. We came here because the white people mobilised to stop the job being done, but we are suffering,” he said.
“They do not feel our pain. The mayor promised us this land. These ratepayers have been called to meetings to discuss the housing situation, but they don’t come. We will stay here until the City comes to clear the trees.”
However Hughenden and Meadows residents said the land was currently zoned public open space, and rezoning was required.
“We believe it is about time that people got decent housing, not temporary housing. These temporary areas are delaying tactics by the City to address the real situation,” Guido Lamberty said.
Another resident, Michael Ahlfanger, believed the City was creating a racial conflict by not addressing the concerns of all Hout Bay’s residents.
“It seems that not everyone is being given the same rights or processes to follow. To us this looks like a set-up from the beginning. All these measures will bring down property values, which is what the City wants because then they can buy the whole areas cheaply,” he said.
“We feel sorry for the community of IY and DY, because they are not being given proper homes. The City has dragged on and on with addressing the housing issue, and now we are sitting with a disaster.”
“They (City) haven’t touched these trees for years, and now all of a sudden they say they are cutting them down because they are alien species. That is a thin excuse.”