Police threaten, assault Symphony Way residents and two Americans, arrest one

10 12 2008
Delft Anti-Eviction Campaign Press Statement
Wednesday 10 December, 2008

Earlier today at around 17h15, police officer De Vos of the Delft police station along with 4 other officers entered Symphony Way and began verbally swearing at and abusing residents. The majority of residents were in a workshop led by an American from a children’s NGO. When Jane Roberts came outside the office where the workshop was taking place, De Vos immediately began threatening Auntie Jane with arrest. He told her quote: “I am going to moor you” and “I will lock you up” and a number of other words inappropriate to publish. He was clearly picking on Aunty Jane because of past instances in which she has opposed his abuse of the community.

Two Americans were also present. The one is the Executive Director of a children’s NGO and the other an American journalist. When they both began documenting the abuse on their cameras and phone, police immediately began threatening to confiscate their cameras and arrest them. A woman police officer then came and slapped the one American and threw his camera to the ground. Police left at around 18h00 once other police officers arrived at the scene.

Then, at 20h00, De Vos came back with his crew and arrested resident Roger Wicks who had nothing to do with the previous incident. He has now been charged with swearing at police and malicious damage to property.

Tomorrow, residents, along with the two Americans, will attempt to lay a charge at the Delft police station against De Vos and the other four police officers on duty.

This is not the first incident of police abuse. There have been over 10 incidents since February 2008 including on 30 October 2008 and 4 October 2008 and 29 June, 2008 and 25 February 2008.

There was also the many instances of brutality during the 19th of February evictions. Documentation includes: (a) Star article: Delft refuse, resist eviction, (b) video by a bystander, (c) video by eTV and (d) photos

For more information, contact Ashraf and Auntie Jane
For statements from the two Americans, contact Matt at and Jay at

Media: Street children document their lives

13 10 2008
AEC Note ~ The Heart of Struggle: A Pavement Exhibition, was a successful event for visitors.  But most of all, it was successful for the children of Symphony Way who used it as a way to document all aspects of their lives including their struggle for houses.

Poverty is political! Aluta Continua!
October 13 2008 at 06:19PM
By Francis Hweshe
Source: Cape Argus

More than 100 children living on the pavement in Symphony Way in Delft have called upon the government to respect their rights and provide them with decent shelter.

In the past week, the children spent time with Antonio Angelucci, a freelance photographer from Italy, who taught them to photograph their own lives living with their families on the pavement.

“The idea is for the children to have fun while they document their lives,” said Angelucci.

For the past eight months, 139 families have been staying on the pavement after being evicted from the N2 Gateway houses they had occupied.

On Sunday the children held their first pavement photography exhibition dubbed: A pavement exhibition, the heart of struggle.

Through pictures, letters and narratives, hung on the barbed wire fence separating them from the houses from which they were evicted, the children reflected on the trauma, pain and suffering they and their parents had endured as a result of the forced eviction.

Some of the pictures they took were of city authorities who they accused of demolishing a neighbour’s shelter two weeks ago.

Other pictures and stories reflected some lighter moments the close-knit community has experienced while living on the pavement. The children said life was more difficult during the cold rainy winter season as their shelters were cold and they struggled to keep warm.

“I don’t think it is fair for people to be on the road. Grannies and grandpas are getting sick on the road. Two grannies have already died, while waiting for houses and one of them is mine,” wrote Lee-Andre Johnson, who is in grade one.

“Its bad for us here, we need better shelter,” Johnson told the Cape Argus.

“My first day in Symphony Way was like living in a camp.

“It was hard settling down because everything was in a mess.

” People were worried and did not know where they were going to sleep,” wrote Nimco Hir, 8.

Ashraf Cassiem, a spokesperson for the Anti-Eviction Campaign who attended the exhibition, said it was important for children to grow up understanding the issues that affected their lives.

Cape town Freedom Song

31 08 2008
By Luke Zandstra (12 Years old)
Mowbray Cape Town

I was walking down the road,
When I saw a big  truck’
It was tearing down the houses and covering me with muck
I turned around a corner and saw them cutting down the trees
And then I saw some animals whose eyes were full of tears

They are tearing down the houses and cutting down the trees
Please look around I’m begging on my knees

Cape town was our city but it is no more
The wealthy ones have taken it and are sending out the poor
So give us back our city and the dignity of all

They are tearing down the houses and cutting down the trees
Please look around I’m begging on my knees

Cape town should be all of ours
And greed should be seized
Please look around I’m begging on my knee

Newfields Village children at risk after housing company leaves area strewn with hazardous rubble

13 08 2008

Press Alert
Wednesday August 13th 2008 at 3:30pm

HANOVER PARK - The Newfields Village community is angry that their children have been placed at risk by the Cape Town Community Housing Company (CTCHC).

The CTCHC is currently working in the area, having been forced to spend millions of rands on repairing all the faults it created by using substandard material to build the houses of Newfields Village some years ago.

However, the CTCHC is not removing the rubble after they finish working. Window frames and broken glass is strewn all over the community and this is extremely hazardous.

When the Anti-Eviction Campaign (AEC) asked CTCHC Project Manager Mdumiso Jikela to remove the rubble in a meeting this morning, he said that if children cut their feet open, it is not his problem.

“The CTCHC is again taking us, the community, as scrap” said the AEC’s Gary Hartzenberg.

The community is also at risk from the cheap window latches that the CTCHC is installing.

The latches are made of plastic, not metal and in three houses, thieves have already broken in simply by breaking off the latches.

The CTCHC has not learnt its lesson - it used substandard material to build houses for the poor and was then forced, after a long struggle by the community, to repair all the houses. But now it is doing the same thing all over again.

The AEC demands proper window frames and latches in all the houses.

For more information contact Gary Hartzenberg on

QQ Section in ‘Litsha takes up tools

10 07 2008
10/07/2008 09:57 AM
Source: CityVision-WC

THE hall was packed on Saturday when the community of QQ Section in Khayelitsha launched their organisation called Abahlali baseMjondolo, the South African shack dwellers’ movement.

Abahlali was established in Durban, early in 2005. Abahlali have democratised the governance of many settlements, stopped evictions in a number of settlements, won access to schools, stopped the industrial development of the land promised to Kennedy Road, forced numerous government officials, offices and projects to “come down to the people” and mounted vigorous challenges to the uncritical assumption of a right to lead the local struggles of the poor in the name of a privileged access to the global movement, according to a statement. Read the rest of this entry »

Abahlali baseMjondolo: ‘a home for all’

1 07 2008
QQ Section Press Statement and AGM Invitation
2nd July, 2008
Event: QQ Section Annual General Meeting
Date: 5 July, 2008
Time: 12h00-16h00
Venue: QQ Section Community Crèche
RSVP and directions:

At 12h00 on Saturday, 5th of July, 2008, the abahlali of QQ Section in Khayelitsha will hold an Annual General Meeting to approve the launch of Abahlali baseMjondolo of the Western Cape. The event will be held at the new QQ Community Crèche that was built and funded by abahlali.

QQ Section residents have been living under appalling conditions for more than 20 years. Even the advent of our so-called democracy has been meaningless to abahlali (residents) of QQ. For us, all the rights to basic services, land, and safety which are stipulated in our country’s constitution, signify a democracy on paper but not in our everyday lives. In QQ Section, we are 620 families who have no access to electricity, no toilets except a nearby field, no sanitation system, and only 8 water taps to share between over 3,000 abahlali.

But because we have been ignored for too long, QQ Section will soon vote to officially join Abahlali baseMjondolo (the South African Shackdwellers Movement). The purpose of joining AbM, a movement that began in the Durban jondolos, is to ensure that all the rights of people living in informal settlements are being recognised, respected, and listened to by those in positions of authority (the government, NGOs, and the private sector). In short, AbM exists to ensure that no one but ourselves speak for ourselves and no one but ourselves govern ourselves.

An additional aim of this shackdweller’s movement is to build relationships between informal settlements and to explore alternatives to the current developmental approach to government. We will appose the forced removals of our communities and top-down housing policies of government officials.

Abahlali baseMjondolo, which has been working with QQ Section for four years now, was originally launched in 2004 from Kennedy Road in Durban, has now become one of the leading social movements in the country. AbM is not a political party and does not have any working relationship or affiliation with any political party or vanguard organisation.

For this landmark event, representatives from Abahlali baseMjondolo will be coming all the way from Durban to support residents. Other social movements such as AbM’s alliance partner, the Anti-Eviction Campaign, will be attending and bringing the support of their respective communities.

The Mayor Helen Zille has been invited to attend along with the local ward councillor and housing MEC Richard Dyantyi. Their authority to speak for the poor will be challenged by abahlali. Also, all government officials who attend will be handed memorandums about the issues affecting our community. Dan Plato, Mayoral Committee Member for Housing has been asked to engage on the following issues raised by abahlali:

  1. Relocation of QQ Section residents
  2. Time-lines regarding housing issues
  3. Declaring QQ Section as ‘in-situ upgradeable’
  4. The city’s immediate intervention plans for this years winter floods

In addition to government officials, a number of NGOs, academics, and well-wishers will be invited to attend, listen to and learn from abahlali. They will not be permitted to speak; the AGM is a space for the community to speak and teach. In the next few months, QQ Section is planning on building more crèches, youth centres and toilets to improve the lives of residents. For this purpose, the community requests that each individual whose attendance is accepted, make a donation to the community as well as bring along one of their favorite books to help us with our new community library.

For further details, directions and donation instructions, please contact Mzonke Poni, QQ Section Community Committee Chairperson @

For more information on QQ Section, click here.

Delft-Symphony Pavement Dwellers building a new world - one child at a time

14 04 2008
Tuesday April 14, 2008
For comment, please call or

Greetings from the pavement of Delft-Symphony:

Over the past month, the Delft-Symphony Pavement Dwellers and their elected Anti-Eviction Campaign leadership have been working hand-in-hand to improve the lives of residents. While it may be an exaggeration to assume (as was reported recently in the Cape Argus) that we live here on the pavement in harmony all the time, there does exist a strong sense of camaraderie among residents and a common vision of the type of world we are fighting for.

What are we fighting for? We are fighting for housing; not only for ourselves but for everyone living in South Africa. We recognize that South Africa is a financially rich country that now has 3 billionaires according to the Forbes list and countless millionaires. This is a country that can easily afford to build decent housing for all and fulfil its constitutional mandate. We believe that the government is violating the constitution and our human rights by refusing to spend more than .

Still, we are not only fighting for houses, we are also fighting for ownership of the housing process. If it is true that ‘the people shall govern’, then how can we sit by and allow a few elitist government officials and their haughty friends in Thubelisha Homes define the process for us?

Yet the government believes that we are stupid; that we cannot think for ourselves; that we cannot design our own communities or construct our own houses. We denounce this arrogance and snobbery by Lindiwe Sisulu and her friends.

But, we are not just fighting for houses and for ownership of the housing process; even more significantly, we are fighting for a better world for ourselves, our children and for every single person living in South Africa. The privatisation and corporatisation of our country is building a new Apartheid that ghettoises the poor in new suburban townships where bread and electricity prices shoot through the roof and where a multi-billion Rand train project in Gauteng is creating a transportation system accessible only to tourists and the wealthy. And so, while fighting for our right to housing, we, the Pavement Dwellers of Delft-Symphony, begin (slowly and without government support) to create this new world that we are fighting for. And we begin, first and foremost, with our children.

We have recently set up a community crèche on the pavement. With the eventual arrival of a container, we expect the crèche to become a defining fixture of our community. But this is only one of the projects we have created for our children. For the past few weeks, we have been running a unique ‘pavement camp’ for kids on school holiday. This has included our soccer and netball clinics, collecting the kids for discussions on life and life-skills, and preparing for the upcoming Symphony Way Fashion Show. Everything has been run by the community and coordinated by the new Delft-Symphony Children’s Committee.

This is proof, once again, that we are not stupid; that we can think; that we can design our own communities, construct our own houses, and build a new world for our children. And we will do so without being commanded by the so-called experts in government who do not understand the human consequences of forced removals and the povertization of the population caused by persistent anti-poor economic policies.

the pavement in the desert on the other side of Cape Town International Airport,

The Delft-Symphony Anti-Eviction Campaign

Symphony Way residents live in harmony

14 04 2008
Tanya Farber
April 11 2008 at 04:01PM
Source: IOL

In Symphony Way, where the evicted Delft residents take pride in their pavement-based community, life is all about making a plan.

Pulling up a chair for a guest means fetching an old wooden box or a tin drum.

And when it comes to the youngest members of the community, nobody shies away from innovative thinking.

For resident Jane Roberts, known as Aunty Jane to all her neighbours, a community creche is the most important thing. It doesn’t matter how makeshift it might be, or if it pops up on a different section of the pavement each morning, because there are more than 200 toddlers needing care.

“In our community, there are some moms and dads who work, but even for the many that don’t, it is better for the kids to be together socialising,” she says.

With no proper structure as yet, it is difficult for her and the other volunteers to make it fully functional but when a donated container that has been promised arrives and when the structure made from found objects is big enough, they are hoping to also provide aftercare for those at primary school, and homework supervision for those at high school.

“The teachers are all volunteers and we call it our community creche. If I’ve got something, I bring it for the children.

We can’t ask the parents because they don’t have anything. We have no sponsors and only a few toys have been donated, but we are from the struggle. We know what it is to struggle. We can manage,” says Aunty Jane.

Monique Adriaanse, who also offers help to the little ones, says: “We don’t want to go cap in hand to the government because they don’t want us here in the first place. We just want the moms to be satisfied and the little children to be happy.”

For the older children attending primary and high school, life in pavement shacks has not stopped the adults from making sure they have transport.

“We make a plan for them to get to school,” says resident Jerome Daniels, who is also a leader in the Anti-Eviction Campaign. “Kenny the plumber takes some of them in his bakkie.”

In true Symphony Way style, Kenny the plumber is also Kenny the driver and on Friday and Saturday nights he hosts his karaoke evenings.

But, on any week day, the music you’re most likely to hear is the evangelical wailing of Harold Long who moves along the street with his old loudhailer on his decorated bike.

Urgent appeal for food aid for Delft roadside

26 03 2008
By Aziz Hartley
Source: Cape Times
25 March 2008

With aid dwindling fast for the more than 300 destitute families squatting next to a Delft main road, the Anti-Eviction Campaign (AEC) has made an urgent appeal for food assistance, particularly for small children.

Available milk and bread was distributed to families, but it was not enough to provide nutritious meals for about 500 children, many of them babies, AEC leader Ashraf Cassiem said yesterday. The 346 families were among about 1 000 evicted from N2 Gateway houses they had illegally occupied.

“The situation is becoming more dire by the day and is aggravated by a shortage of water. Access to four water points was easy until a fence was erected and people got cut off. We have to ask a contracting company on a housing site to let us have some of their water.

“The children are our main concern. Any assistance such as vegetables, fruit and cereals will be welcomed. The situation is bad here, but we try very hard to make things as comfortable as possible. Adults are content, but it is their children they don’t want to see suffer.

“With schools closed for the holidays, we have programmes for children, but there are no resources. Anything will help,” Cassiem said and added that there were about 300 pupils, 60 toddlers and 48 babies.

Wheelchair-bound pensioner Maria Davids said: “We try to make a way for the children to eat before we worry about ourselves. Milk and bread is fine, but children need proper nutrition. We hope and pray all this suffering comes to and end and that we’ll get a proper house. Conditions are a bit better than at the time we were thrown out on the street, but I’m worried what will happen if the rain comes, because the canvas over our heads is full of holes.”

The AEC is to have a follow-up meeting on Wednesday with provincial housing authorities.

Cassiem said the meeting was to get the housing department’s confirmation that the families’ housing subsidy applications had been registered. “We met the department last Tuesday when it undertook to check the names we gave them with that on the list of housing company Thubelisha Homes,” Cassiem said.

Provincial housing department spokesman Vusi Tshose, said: “We did not want all those people to stand in the sun and wait, because it takes time to process more than 200 applications. We agreed that on Wednesday they will return, so that by then the department will be able to say whose subsidy applications had been registered and whose should still be registered.

“If it is found that they have applied for a subsidy, they will be treated the same as all other people who have applied and who are on a list.”

To donate, please click here.

#2 - Pavement children speak from the heart and urge compassion from Lindiwe Sisulu

25 03 2008

Attached you will find a second batch of Letters from the Delft children who are living on the pavement of Symphony Way. Representatives from Delft Symphony are planning to hand over the children’s 42 letters at a meeting with provincial housing officials.  For the first batch, please see the previous article here.

The second batch can be found here:

Also attached, you will find a letter from one of the adult pavement dwellers. She was inspired to write her letter by 8 year old Nikita who was the first child to write a letter to Lindiwe Sisulu.