To commemorate 50 years of forced removals from District Six, we present a series of difficult dialogues with key partner organisations. We aim to illuminate important issues from our recent past in relation to contemporary manifestations of displacement, racism, violence and possibilities for a just society.
DISTRICT SIX MUSEUM & NDIFUNA UKWAZI
Memory against forgetting
Tuesday, 24th May 2016
6pm – 8pm
Snacks and tea / coffee available from 5h30 – 6pm
District Six Museum Homecoming Centre
15 Buitenkant Street, Cape Town
D6 | BLIKKIESDORP | WOODSTOCK| RENT CONTROL | SEAPOINT
WHO IS THIS FOR?
• Are you involved in campaigns, educational projects or academic studies concerned with the ongoing marginalisation of people from the places declared white under the Group Areas Act during Apartheid?
• Do you desire to live in an inclusive, kinder and more caring society – one that places all people before greed and profit?
KEY ISSUES FOR DISCUSSION
On 11th February, D6 was declared a White Group Area under an Apartheid Government that came to power in 1948. An estimated 60 000 people were racialised and cleared out of the city to areas like Bonteheuwel, Langa, Heideveld, Guguletu, Manenberg, Nyanga, Athlone, Hanover Park, Lavender Hill, amongst other townships on the Cape Flats. This followed the forced removals of people from many places in South Africa – Sophiatown is famously remembered amongst these.
Today we have seen two phases of RETURN where claimants have successfully been rehoused in the shadow of Table Mountain in the areas demarcated for restitution. Many challenges remain and many people have been excluded for various reasons. Many have passed on before being able to return to the place they remembered fondly with stories that never stopped circulating in the communities they were removed to. The third phase of return is now underway, sadly in the shadow of a threat by the City to evict residents of the De Waal Road Flats that serves as a buffer between D6 and the Highway on the upper fringe of the area.
This year District Six Museum and its partners will be campaigning for District Six to be declared a National Heritage Site to serve as a reminder of Apartheid forced removals in the City. This will go a long way to helping young people born on the Cape Flats to make sense of their present in relation to where, perhaps, their families came from.
Blikkiesdorp is a relocation camp in Delft, abutting Cape Town International Airport. It consists of rows of corrugated iron shacks subsidised built by the City of Cape Town. Building on the camp was started in 2007, in response to a court order. In the ensuing years, Blikkiesdorp became a place where people who were priced out and evicted from their homes in areas such as Woodstock or Salt River, or those made homeless by disasters such as shack fires and flooding, were moved to under the pretense that it was emergency and temporary alternative accommodation. Many people moved to Blikkiesdorp under the assumptions that they would only be there for a number of months. Some have now lived there for up to 9 years.
Blikkiesdorp is defined by high levels of petty crime, murder, health problems, substance abuse, unemployment and gangsterism. The settlement is poorly serviced by police and ambulances, and is far from transport nodes, schools, health care facilities and job opportunities. The isolation is one of the main contributing factors to the social ills experienced by families living in Blikkiesdorp. Residents complain that the infrastructure was not designed to accommodate people on a permanent basis – a notion supported by the City’s own conception of the camp as a ‘Temporary Relocation Area’.
Plans are currently underway to extend the airport runway – a project which will need the removal of Blikkiesdorp. Since 2010, the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) has been in negotiation with the City of Cape Town. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) exists between the two that the residents of Blikkiesdorp and other settlements nearby would be relocated. Yet, the Blikkiesdorp Joint Committee complain that they are not privy to this MOU and do not know the details of the relocation plan. They demand that Mayor Patricia de Lille acknowledges the crisis at the City built camp and gives them clear answers about the settlement’s future.
Woodstock is traditionally a working class suburb and former industrial area east of the Cape Town city centre. Like District Six, the area was a cosmopolitan mix of people and religions – which stood in defiance of the apartheid project to segregate South Africa’s cities according to the ‘Group Areas’. Unlike what happened in District Six, since it was declared a ‘white’ area in the 1966, Woodstock did not experience the same number of state sponsored evictions and forced removals of ‘native’ and ‘coloured’ people to townships on the Cape Flats during apartheid.
Because of its prime location close to the heart of the City, the area has slowly gentrified since around the early-mid 1990s. This trend, and the accompanying increases in property prices and rentals, accelerated rapidly in the run up to the 2010 World Cup. Businesses ventures such as the Biscuit Mill created a new retail sector targeted at the super-wealthy and developers speculated on- and bought up residential property as investments. The areas original poor inhabitants complain that the economic regeneration of the area has actively excluded them, and has not been accompanied by the creation of enough new job-opportunities. Rentals have increased dramatically, and poor families (private tenants) are routinely intimidated and evicted from homes in which they have lived for decades. They often end up on the streets, in townships on the Cape Flats or in relocation camps such as Blikkiesdorp.
Meanwhile, the state has not built any affordable and subsidised rental housing for working class residents and workers in Woodstock since the end of apartheid.
20 years after Apartheid, Cape Town is still deeply divided by race and class – and the few poor families who live in nice parts of the city are increasingly being pushed out to the fringes. Why is the City moving people to distant areas? Can the City afford to provide services to those it is moving away? How can people who want to move back into the city come back when it’s far too expensive? Let’s have a discussion about the problem with moving people to the edges of Cape Town, renting in the city, rent control, and what a fair rent is.
SEA-POINT SOCIAL AUDIT
Tenants living in Sea Point have for years been impacted by unfair rent increases, poor maintenance of buildings, unfair rules from landlords, among others. Through many years most tenants in Sea Point were not aware of what the law says in terms of rental issues and were not exposed to a channel that they can use to address their issues.
As a result, tenants through Reclaim The City (RTC) came together and decided to conduct a social audit to address the rental issues they are faced within their daily lives.
The Sea Point social audit aims at equipping the Sea Point tenants with the following:
- The law: Rental Housing Act & Tenants’ Rights education.
- Institutions Obligations: Rental housing tribunal functions etc.
- Roles of the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Provincial Government on rental issues.
The social audit will be conducted by the Reclaim The City (RTC) Sea Point core group, consisting of Ndifuna Ukwazi (NU) staff members and other RTC volunteers.
During the social audit, tenants will be interviewed, data will be collected and analysed, findings will be formulated and a Public Hearing will held for reporting back to the community and getting responses from the Government, landlords and other stakeholders who have an obligation on rental issues.