Bit­ter fight for a slice of Sea Point

Cape Town sub­urb’s poorer res­i­dents de­mand that premier re­verts to pre­vi­ous un­der­tak­ing to de­velop low-cost hous­ing in up-mar­ket sub­urb

CityPress - - News - ZINHLE MAPUMULO zinhle.mapumulo@city­press.co.za

Poor res­i­dents of the ex­pen­sive Cape Town sub­urb of Sea Point have given Western Cape Premier He­len Zille an ul­ti­ma­tum to ei­ther give in to their de­mands or they will il­le­galy oc­cupy land the prov­ince sold to pri­vate prop­erty de­vel­op­ers. The res­i­dents, who took to the street on Thurs­day, say Zille has had plenty of time to con­sider their plight and if she does not re­spond positively within 30 days, they will move into the Tafel­berg Re­me­dial School in Sea Point and build shacks around it.

The fight is over the fact that there is vir­tu­ally no hous­ing for poor peo­ple in Cape Town’s pricey in­ner city and work­ers on the city’s out­skirts have to spend a lot of time and money trav­el­ling to work each day. Or, like the sub­urb’s domestic work­ers, they have to live in apartheid-style ser­vants’ quar­ters away from their fam­i­lies.

Domestic worker and Re­claim the City Cam­paign or­gan­iser Than­deka Sis­usa told City Press the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment left them no choice. “We have been plead­ing with gov­ern­ment to stop the sale of Tafel­berg site, but it ap­pears our pleas have fallen on deaf ears. They are forc­ing us to live in squalid con­di­tions while they have sold the land that was ear­marked for our houses to the high­est bid­der.”

Ten­sions be­tween Sea Point res­i­dents and the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment be­gan in Jan­uary, when the prov­ince an­nounced the sale of the Tafel­berg Re­me­dial School site to a pri­vate de­vel­oper. The site was ini­tially ear­marked for a mixed-use de­vel­op­ment, in­clud­ing low­cost hous­ing, which would have seen hun­dreds of poor res­i­dents from Sea Point ben­e­fit.

The res­i­dents came to­gether af­ter the an­nounce­ment and de­cided to fight against the sale. In April they ap­proached the Western Cape High Court, ask­ing it to stop the sale on the ba­sis that the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment failed to gather enough pub­lic com­ment.

Last month, the court ruled in res­i­dents’ favour and or­dered the sale to be sus­pended to al­low res­i­dents three weeks to make sub­mis­sions.

The pub­lic com­ment pe­riod lapsed on Thurs­day, the day sup­port­ers of the Re­claim the City Cam­paign handed over their ob­jec­tions, to­gether with a pe­ti­tion signed by 4 290 peo­ple, to Zille’s of­fice. They gave Zille 30 days to re­spond.

“All we are ex­pect­ing from the premier is a pos­i­tive re­sponse. We were told that houses were go­ing to be built for us and our fam­i­lies on that land; now they sold the land where it was sup­posed to be built? Zille is well aware of the fact that we live like slaves in Sea Point, yet we are told that we are free in this demo­cratic coun­try,” said Sis­usa.

“The ser­vants’ quar­ters we cur­rently live in are no dif­fer­ent from un­kempt dor­mi­to­ries. To make mat­ters worse, we live un­der strict cur­fews and we are not al­lowed to have vis­i­tors, yet we are mar­ried women and men with fam­i­lies,” she said.

Sis­usa (37), who has lived in a sin­gle room in Sea Point for 24 years, says the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to sell Tafel­berg took them back to the apartheid years.

“We have ex­pe­ri­enced racism and re­sis­tance from wealthy peo­ple in Sea Point and our city, who refuse to ac­cept that work­ing class black peo­ple also have a right to stay in beau­ti­ful and well-lo­cated ar­eas. When we went to the prom­e­nade to draw a chalk mu­ral in sup­port of an in­clu­sive city, the City of Cape Town sent Metro Po­lice of­fi­cers to si­lence and in­tim­i­date us.”

In spite of this, she said: “We have proved that a ma­jor­ity of Capeto­ni­ans from all dif­fer­ent back­grounds, races and in­come brackets stand united in the call for a de­seg­re­gated city.”

PHOTO: DANEEL KNOETZE

HEAR US Protesters march in Sea Point on Thurs­day. In­set: Cam­paign or­gan­iser Than­deka Sis­usa

PRIME PROP­ERTY Mem­bers of the Re­claim the City Cam­paign took to the street this week to protest the pro­posed sale of the Tafel­berg Re­me­dial School (on left side of the road) in Sea Point, Cape Town, to a pri­vate de­vel­oper

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