Evicted squat­ters march over hous­ing

Cape Argus - - METRO - SISONKE MLAMLA [email protected]

A GROUP of squat­ters have marched to the Civic Cen­tre af­ter they were evicted from Ar­ca­dia Place in Ob­ser­va­tory and spent sev­eral nights on the street.

The group, called Singa­bal­apha

(We be­long here), were dis­ap­pointed when their me­moran­dum of de­mands did not reach City of­fi­cials af­ter they walked 6km yes­ter­day.

Their spokesper­son, Bar­bara Vuza, said the squat­ters were back­yard dwellers, “seek­ing for gov­ern­ment’s at­ten­tion”.

She said they came from var­i­ous town­ships, such as Langa, Gugulethu, Nyanga East and Khayelit­sha.

“We are tired of liv­ing in cramped con­di­tions at our par­ents’ homes, in back­yard shacks, where we are not able to af­ford ex­or­bi­tant rents.”

“There­fore, we de­cided to oc­cupy Ar­ca­dia Place as a means o protest. We, Singa­bal­apha, con­tinue not to be catered for by our gov­ern­ment. While we con­tinue en­gag­ing with the gov­ern­ment, our en­gage­ments do not yield any pos­i­tive re­sults,” Vuza said.

She said they were now count­ing more than 12 days and 12 nights sleep­ing out­side in the cold and rain, af­ter the court or­dered their evic­tion.

“Still no at­ten­tion has been given to us by any po­lit­i­cal au­thor­i­ties, whether it be the lo­cal coun­cil­lor or any su­pe­rior po­lit­i­cal or gov­ern­ment struc­tures.”

Vuza said the group was wor­ried about stay­ing out­side any longer, be­cause they in­cluded chil­dren and pa­tients of Groote Schuur hos­pi­tal who had chronic health prob­lems, such as asthma and tu­ber­cu­lo­sis.

Ar­ca­dia Place, owned by the Cape Penin­sula Or­gan­i­sa­tion for the Aged (CPOA), was left va­cant for ren­o­va­tions. On Septem­ber 17, a group of about 200 back­yarders and shack dwellers be­gan to oc­cupy the space.

Squat­ter Si­nazo Jor­dan said their de­mand was for the City to con­sider ad­e­quate ac­com­mo­da­tion for them.

“We do not want to be like our grand­par­ents, who died hold­ing on to red cards. Nei­ther do we want to be like our par­ents, who died hold­ing on to white cards. Our gov­ern­ment is fail­ing us dis­mally, es­pe­cially in the Western Cape. The gov­ern­ment caters for those who have no re­spect for the law, those who have no re­spect for pub­lic re­sources, those who have no re­spect for author­ity,” Jor­dan said.

Mayco mem­ber for hu­man set­tle­ments Malusi Booi said: “Re­gret­tably, the City did not re­ceive prior no­ti­fi­ca­tion of the march, nor was the me­moran­dum ad­dressed to any­one in par­tic­u­lar. The mat­ter was an evic­tion in­sti­tuted by the non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion CPOA.”

Booi said the City’s hu­man set­tle­ments direc­torate was not in­volved. “It was car­ried out by the Sher­iff of the Court and the po­lice.”

A GROUP of squat­ters call­ing them­selves Singa­bal­apha (We Be­long Here) march to the Civic Cen­tre to de­mand hous­ing. | SISONKE MLAMLA

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