Where are our houses? – evictees

20 Jul

Only 10 families have been moved to formal housing from Blikkiesdorp since its establishment as a Temporary Relocation Area (TRA) three years ago, the City of Cape Town has confirmed.

The remaining residents are on the city’s housing waiting list, which stands at 386 590.

Ernest Sonnenberg, mayoral committee member for housing, said it was not known how many people on the list actually qualified for a housing subsidy or already owned property elsewhere in the country – which would disqualify them in terms of the national allocation policy.

In the past year, 7 700 housing “opportunities” had been made available to people, said Sonnenberg.

He was not clear on how many people were actually moved into houses.

Now Blikkiesdorp residents fear they may never leave the TRA and realise their dream of living in “real” houses.

When it was built early in 2008, the city said the TRAs provided “medium term” temporary accommodation for people in emergency situations.

The first of the 1 680 families moved into the TRA on May 9 2008 after they were evicted from the N2 Gateway projects where they had illegally occupied houses.

The first occupants were given 18m2 wood and iron structures with electricity. One toilet and one standpipe was to be shared between four families.

A group of 136 families refused to move into the TRA, which became known as Blikkiesdorp, and squatted on the Symphony Way pavement in protest for two years. They claimed the TRA was crime ridden and not fit for families with children. After a lengthy court battle, the last of the families moved into Blikkiesdorp in November 2009.

On a recent Cape Argus visit to Blikkiesdorp, residents expressed unhappiness at being kept in the dark about when they would be moved into houses.

Community leader Jane Roberts said that last month residents had tried to invade empty houses in Delft, also part of the N2 Gateway project. Their attempts had been foiled by police and 11 people had been arrested.

They are expected to appear in the Bellville Magistrates’ Court on August 4.

Roberts said people had acted out of frustration.

“For some people, it’s been three years. This was supposed to be temporary. We should have been in a housing project by now,” said Roberts.

She said that while they now had electricity, sanitation, water and a play park for the children, they were much happier living on the pavement.

“This place has changed people. The sense of community has faded away. This place was never meant to be lived in,” said Roberts.

Sonnenberg said several lessons had been learned from the Blikkiesdorp situation and these had helped the city in its establishment of the new Mfuleni TRA near the old Faure Road.

The relocations started in May and ended last week.

Most of the residents moved there by the city were Mfuleni backyarders and flood victims from the area. The Mfuleni TRA has 384 structures


Sonnenberg said the size of the structures had been increased from 18m2 to 24m2, and more resilient material had been used in building them. Each structure has its own toilet and wash basin inside.

A Mfuleni community leader, Xolani Mqikela, said his new home was “much better” than the waterlogged shack he had lived in before.

He said many of the residents were happy with their homes and didn’t mind living there for a while.

“We just hope that we get houses, and we’re not left here permanently,” said Mqikela.

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Posted by on July 20, 2011 in Discussions


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