Threat of fresh conflict in Hangberg
‘I won’t move – they can kill me’
TROUBLE is brewing again in Hangberg, with a group of informal settlement residents threatening “another bloodbath” if the city continues its plans to move them to make way for a block of 72 apartments.
The angry residents say they are the “first inhabitants” of the area, known as Dallas, which looks down on to Hout Bay harbour, one of the city’s finest views.
Still fresh in the minds of authorities and residents alike are the 2011 violent clashes between metro police and residents of Hangberg, which led finally to the signing of the Hangberg peace and mediation accord. Hangberg resembled a war zone as police shot at residents with rubber bullets, who in turn pelted them with stones after the removal of people from shacks in the area.
The city said at the time that the illegal structures were built on fire breaks and had to be removed.
Several people were injured, including police officers.
Now Dallas’s Khoi residents are warning that they’ll flout the peace treaty.
Xoma Aobi, 48, who was born in Hangberg, said: “I don’t know about others, but this will have a long-lasting negative effect on me and the legacy of the Khoi. I have more to lose if they move us out, but there will be a bloodbath before that happens. I’m not going to move, they can kill me.”
Aobi, recognised as Dallas’s first resident by the community, had harsh words too for the peace and mediation forum, established in Hout Bay in 2011 with 38 members, but which he says now has only eight members.
He claimed it’s been turned into “a puppet” by the city.
Aobi grows herbs on his smallholding in Dallas, and says he has been working the land for decades. Now he says his home is being threatened.
He accused the city of “exploiting” residents through the forum.
Warren Abrahams, a former forum secretary general, added his voice, saying residents had definitely “not been consulted properly”.
He said the city planned to move the 10 families to another nearby area, called Diamond, while developments took place.
But instead of moving back afterwards, when the time came for Diamond to be developed, the families would be moved again.
According to Aobi, all the elders of the 10 families were born on the Dallas land.
While the city says it has had “repeated and on- going consultation” with the residents of Dallas, they say the last time they had any meeting was when the accord was signed in 2011.
Tandeka Gqada, mayoral committee member for human settlements, said the city had identified land on which the Dallas residents would be accommodated, and that the plans would go ahead.
“Addressing its critical housing need in Hangberg, the city’s human settlements directorate has acquired land and commenced with project planning as per its mandate and integrated development plan,” she said.
“Community residential units (rental stock) will be built on two sites owned by the city where the families of Dallas are currently residing in informal structures,” she said, adding that there was a critical need for housing in Hangberg.
“The two sites earmarked for development have the necessary zoning in place for development to commence immediately.”
Gqada also noted that the temporary resettlement area is “within 100m” of where the residents are living.
Solly Malatsi, spokesman for mayor Patricia de Lille, said the forum was an “elected and representative structure of Hangberg”, elected after extensive community consultation.
The city, province and Sanparks were working with the forum to “deliver on commitments as part of the order of court on this matter”.
The establishment of the forum, and its work, was regarded widely as “an exam- ple of successful community intervention”.
Malatsi added that there were a number of significant positive developments taking place in Hangberg, particularly in respect to housing.
“These are part of our commitments as contained in the peace accord,” he said.
In an apparent reference to the Dallas residents, Malatsi added that there was always a minority element in any community which would do its “utmost to derail positive developments for their narrow political or other interest”.
But the residents insist they cannot “leave” their roots behind.
Helen Abrahams, who has been a Dallas resident for 38 years, said she “can’t come to terms” with the city’s decision.
“We’re the first inhabitants and are Khois. We seem to be getting the short end of the stick again,” she said.
Attempts to contact forum co- ordinator Mabel May for comment proved unsuccessful.
UP FOR DEVELOPMENT: Residents fear they may be forced to move after the city announced it’s intention to develop the land it bought directly below their homes in Hangberg, Hout Bay.
ROOTS: Long-term residents Warren Abrahams, left, and Virginia Davids .