13 March 2018
Since Saturday, scores of people have occupied two open spaces in Bloekombos, Kraaifontein. On Monday they built shacks on Monday. The vacant land is in section 18, opposite Bloekombos Clinic, and section 16 near Nomasi Street.
Palisa Tekana, one of the occupiers, is 26 and works as a seasonal grape picker from October to April at Joubertsdal in Paarl. She says she earns R350 a week after deductions. “Even when I work during the grape season, it is difficult for me to pay rent.”
Outside of the grape season, she depends on her brother, a construction worker.
Ntomboxolo Maqeke, also a grape picker, has four kids who sleep on the floor while she shares a bed with her daughter and her two grandchildren. “I wake up feeling exhausted everyday … I can’t rest properly,” she said.
Outside of picking season, she uses her grandchildren’s social grant money to pay rent and buy food.
Community leader Sihle Dube said the residents wanted their new informal settlement to be free of crime. “We don’t want shebeens here because they will attract thugs.”
He said he had drawn up a list of 93 families who were occupying the land.
“The country has changed presidents about four times, but people still don’t have houses. Residents stay in small, crammed shacks and they have to step on their kids who are sleeping on the floor when they go out to work in the morning,” he said.