News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Sunday January 20th 2019

Cape Town’s forgotten community

Vissershok community leader Oscarina Toto (far right seated) says the community is unsure over their future. Photo: Peter Luhanga/WCN

Vissershok community leader Oscarina Toto (far right seated) says the community is unsure over their future. Photo: Peter Luhanga/WCN

THE city’s shortage of landfill space has them needing to expand the Vissershok landfill, but 207 families are in the way and nobody wants them moved into their own backyard.

The families, who have lived in shacks on the edge of the landfill site next to the N7 to the north of the city for 15 years, make a living recycling the waste dumped there, but have now been living in limbo for over two years as the city struggles to find a place for them to move to.

In the meantime, the lack of clarity over their future means they are unable to receive basic services.

Services consist of 50 chemical toilets and a few standpipes. There is no electricity and families cook on open fires in their yard or on dangerous paraffin stoves.

The nearest stores are in Du Noon, about five kilometers away. No taxis service the area and residents hike along the N7 if they want to get anywhere.

Initial plans in 2009 to move the families to open land adjacent to the middle-class suburb of Avondale in Atlantis were brought to halt when Avondale residents protested, threatening to demolish the proposed Temporary Relocation Area (TRA) there.

Avondale residents argued that a TRA next to their suburb would lower their property values and put pressure on the already stretched public facilities in Atlantis.

The city backed down and two other sites were investigated.

Former Koeberg subcouncil chair Claude Ipser said Van Schoor’s Drift (diagonally opposite the landfill site), Wolwerivier (North West of the Landfill site) and the Atlantis area were proposed.

But farmers and businesses in Van Schoor’s Drift threatened legal action should a TRA be established in the area.

Spokesperson for Van Schoor’s Drift farmers and businesses, Pawel Kanigowski, who is director of the Cape Town Ostrich Ranch, said they had done their legal groundwork and found the city had “not done enough research”.

“They’re looking for a quick fix. Legal action will take place should the city go a head to relocate those residents here,” said Kanigowski.

He said his ostrich farm was a tourist attraction and his birds were slaughtered and their meat exported to Europe. A TRA would significantly impact the tourism business, Vissershok residents’ dogs would destroy his ostrich farming operations and jobs would be lost.

Meanwhile the residents at Vissershok continue to live in limbo.

Visserhok resident Alice Mankayi said she’s lived there for over 20 years and her two children, aged 23 and 19, were both born there.

Mankayi said the lack of a permanent decision over their fate meant service delivery had never reached them.

She said a Non-Profit organization that wanted to initiate community projects but was stopped by the city because the residents were supposed to be relocated.

But talk of relocation had been going on “a long time”, she said and believed it was merely an excuse to not provide basic services to the community.

“Our place doesn’t change. If we demand services we are told we will be relocated. We don’t even know who to complain to,” said Mankayi, “its been a long time that the city has been promising that we’re moving.”

Human Settlements mayoral committee member Ernest Sonnenberg said the city intended to relocate the residents “as soon as practically possible” but “certain political resistance, lengthy environmental procedures, and statutory town planning processes” had caused “an unusually protracted process”.

Sonnenberg confirmed that threatened legal action by unhappy farmers had delayed the relocation process. — Peter Luhanga


Tags: Alice Mankayi, atlantis, Avondale, Cape Town Ostrich Ranch, Claude Ipser, Ernest Sonnenberg, Pawel Kanigowski, Van Schoor's Drift, Vissershok

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