Threat of fresh con­flict in Hang­berg

‘I won’t move – they can kill me’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - SOYISO MALITI

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 .

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