WATCH: Blikkiesdorp families take refuge in church as they flee violence

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iol.co.zaOct 15, 2018 8:48 AM

RESIDENTS of Blikkiesdorp are living on a knifes edge as the clock ticks for the families living in the Methodist church to find alternative accommodation. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency.

Cape Town – Thirty people from nine families in Blikkiesdorp were forced to flee for their lives and sought refuge in the Central Methodist Church in the CBD after they come under attack from a mob trying to force themselves onto the housing waiting list.

The families, including 16 children, eight men and five women are staying in the Methodist Church in Cape Town near Greenmarket Square. They were forced to leave Blikkiesdorp on Monday when their homes came under attack.

Community leader Ettienne Claasen said: “We are not going back, we are fearing for our lives, we are frustrated and we are scared.”

The temporary relocation area, known as Blikkiesdorp, has been in existence for more than 12 years. Born of an eviction and a court order, the area became a “go to” place for families rendered homeless as a result of evictions and xenophobic violence. A group of leaders in the community formed the Blikkiesdorp Joint Committee (BJC) to work towards decent housing.

‘We are not going back, we are fearing for our lives, we are frustrated, we are scared’. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency.
Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency.
Mom Jo-ann Cupido with her daughter (Identity withheld) at the Methodist church where they are currently staying. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency.

The BJC then engaged with the planning process which was under way for an upgrade to the adjacent airport. They were able to engage with the consultants, airport management of the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) and the City of Cape Town about the plans for their relocation. The plan did not provide for two key communities in the TRA – foreign nationals and those not eligible for RDP housing. The BJC agreed to go forward as a group to demand rehousing for the whole community, and it put in a submission to the planning process to raise its concerns.

The group and the City then agreed that all the people from the area, as captured in a 2016 census, would be moved to either houses or site and service plots in a development nearby, which would include light industrial developments. The community will be filling in subsidy forms over the next few weeks.

The Right2Know organisation, which has been assisting the community, said this seems to have been the trigger for a group that is acting to get involved in the community, and a number of “representatives” are putting themselves forward under the pretext of being part of the community. The group has also become involved in vigilante action in the community. A number of killings have taken place and several structures burned. The leadership in the BJC has received death threats.

Claasen said: “What about us who have been living in that area. Now these people want to chase us out and take our houses. We have been living here for years and no one has heard us.”Blikkiesdorp resident Jo-Anna Cupido is fuming after fleeing her home out of fear for her life. Blikkesdorp is on a knife-edge as time runs out for 30 families to find other accommodation. Video: Marvin Charles/Cape Argus.

Alison Tilley, from Right2Know, said: “We will be sending papers to the City of Cape Town and if we do not hear back from them we will be submitting an urgent court application in the High Court to act because the City has not been acting.”

Mayoral committee member for Informal settlements, water and waste services; and energy, Xanthea Limberg said: “We condemn any acts of violence and would want peace, law and order to prevail within the community to ensure the City can continue with service delivery.

“The City’s Informal Settlement department has a record of the number of households which will be relocating to formal housing opportunities and we are monitoring the area to avoid growth.”

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