‘on symphony way we were a strong, respectful community… i’m moving with a heavy heart’
October 27, 2009 Edition 1
Quinton Mtyala – Cape Times
HAVING been defiant for months, 23 of 127 families have relented and yesterday moved from pavement shelters in Symphony Way, Delft, to a notorious temporary resettlement area dubbed Blikkiesdorp.
Most expressed their fear at what awaited them at the row upon row of single-roomed corrugated iron shacks without water or electricity.The move follows a Western Cape High Court ruling, which confirmed an earlier decision two weeks ago that sealed the fate of 127 families who had been squatting on a section of Symphony Way in Delft for almost two years after being evicted from N2 Gateway homes which they had occupied illegally.
Those still living on the road have been given until Thursday to vacate the area after mediation failed between the city and representatives of the shack dwellers.
Trucks hired by the City of Cape Town spent most of yesterday transporting families and their belonging the short distance to Blikkiesdorp.
Waiting for the contents of her shack to be packed on to one of the trucks, Matilda Groepe reflected on the community spirit that the shack dwellers had forged during their time living on the pavements. “Here on Symphony Way we were a strong and respectful community, there were hardly ever incidents of crime or violence here because people were organised and we had a singular purpose.
“I’ll be moving away here and into Blikkiesdorp with a heavy heart,” said Groepe.
Father of two Joseph Witbooi said he no longer had the will to fight after the community lost two court cases.
“I would’ve loved to move my family to another area but there weren’t any other alternatives but Blikkiesdorp and that’s not an ideal place.”
Mother of one Chantal Gertse, seated in her new home with bubble-wrap insulation, said the ideal situation for her would have been if the squatters had been moved into houses.
“Now I’m living here with my daughter and her father and to say that I’m fearful for her safety would be an understatement. I’m scared because children are raped here and also due to the substance abuse in Blikkiesdorp,” said Gertse.
City of Cape Town spokeswoman Kylie Hatton said the first day of moving had gone well due to a decision to stagger the process over four days.
“Over the course of the week the rest of the families will move.
“They’re moving in groups which minimises any possible disruptions.”
In a compromise with the community’s leaders during last week’s talks over their relocation, it had been agreed that the community would not be split up.
“We’re also maintaining the community structure. A new section for the people from Symphony Way has been set aside and people can also choose who they want to live next to since these relationships have been built up,” Hatton said.