‘We also need a proper place in the sun’
Domestic worker Magdalena Samboer has lived in Sea Point for 40 years, 30 of those as a domestic worker for her current employer.
“When I started working here the room was rotten, I had to take out the carpet. When they renovated people’s houses I had to ask them to give me something to put in there.
“As old as I am, I have to share a bathroom. We are only allowed one tub of water and have to use it for everything – from bathing to washing your hair.
“We are not allowed to have visitors. As a domestic worker, you have to do everything [for your employer] but the moment you complain about the living conditions, they get upset.
“If they find out that I’m supporting the campaign to stop the sale of Tafelberg, they will do everything in their power to get rid of me.
“But they have to understand that I’m not giving up. I In a letter to Western Cape Premier Helen Zille this week, architect Ilze Wolff, and her husband and business partner Heinrich Wolff, argued why Cape Town needs to change:
At the launch of the Reclaim the City campaign, three other sites were identified: the Alfred Street Complex, Top Yard and Helen Bowden Nurses Home next to the V&A Waterfront. The four sites all have the same thing in common: they are located within a rich network of opportunity that is the central city.
Other parts of the city, such as the apartheid residential suburbs, do not offer a density of networks of opportunity that are currently available in the central city. This includes good public transport, well-located healthcare facilities, cultural institutions, educational institutions, leisure activities, public spaces, and economic and commercial opportunities. Added to this kind of density of urban infrastructure is the proximity to the sea and the mountain, spaces of contemplation, spaces of dreaming. The location of settlement near this kind of spectacular nature is a human desire and shared benefit that cannot be disregarded.
Currently, the site has been sold to private developers who do not have the intention of historic redress that is required for equitable spatial justice. The sale is supported and vehemently defended by the Sea Point, Bantry Bay and Fresnaye Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association, which has vocalised in the media its strong opposition to correcting historic spatial injustices and violent claims to land in Sea Point.
Many members are white men, ironically speaking for the continued exclusion of black women and children; for the continued exclusion of mothers who clean the homes of rich Sea Point residents. The past lives in the present in the most powerful ways. Unjustified historic claims to desirable space, apartheid and subsequent forced removals have given a racial, patriarchal and imperialist dimension to the modern development of Cape Town.
Tafelberg is public land and has the opportunity to redress historic spatial violence. Tafelberg presents government with a rare opportunity for spatial justice. This potential, amid a dominant culture of land acquisition for private gain, is an invaluable and fragile opportunity for social justice, using space to set up networks of care, respect, dignity and inclusion.
Selling and privatising public land is an opportunity lost. It is a disposal of the potential to redress historic spatial injustices and thus a violent continuation of the racialised, patriarchal imperialist project of the past. won’t be kicked out of my workplace and chucked out on the street because I have no place to go. “I’m also human. Just because I’m there to do their dirty work, to help them to build their empire, it does not mean that I am less human or that I deserve less respect. “We also need a proper place in the sun, a place we can call home. We are not animals. “They do not want my children here. Because every five minutes they say to me: ‘your children this and your family that’. My children, I had to give them up when they were small, like dogs. “They had to go and live with other people far away, because they were not allowed to live with me. I don’t have them with me and I am not a healthy person. “If anything happens to me, where must I go? Who must I call? I have no one. It is not fair towards the domestic workers.”
CONTESTED TAFELBERG SCHOOL IMPRESSION
Domestic Magdalena Samboer