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Families who fled Blikkiesdorp ask City for help

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A resident claims that crime, not race, is at the root of the conflict

Photo of people in a church
Nine families that fled Blikkiesdorp have been living in the Central Methodist Mission Church since Thursday night. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks
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Families that fled Blikkiesdorp last week have sent a lawyer’s letter to the City of Cape Town to ask the authorities to find alternative accommodation for them or else they will take the matter to court.

Nine families were forced to vacate their homes in Blikkiesdorp on Wednesday evening, after threats were made by other residents. Some of them are members of the old Blikkiesdorp Joint Committee (BJC).

One of the residents who was expelled last week and is currently living at the Central Methodist Mission Church in central Cape Town with over 30 other residents, Etienne Claasen, said, “This whole thing ultimately lies with the City because they are the ones who evicted us from the very beginning and brought us to Blikkiesdorp, which they said would be for a year. But it is now ten years since we have been staying in Blikkiesdorp.”

Claasen said that together with Right2Know they had sent a letter to the City, asking the City to find them alternative accommodation. The letter asks the City to urgently:

  • Reinstate the homes in which they lived until they were dispossessed or, alternatively, provide the families with alternative safe accommodation by Wednesday, 17 October 2018.
  • Ensure that the families are able to access and complete the subsidy forms that are going to be distributed in Blikkiesdorp on 20th October 2018.
  • Bring eviction proceedings against alleged unlawful occupiers of the families’ homes.
  • Secure Blikkiesdorp and ensure the safety and security of all of its lawful residents.
  • Take steps to ensure that Blikkiesdorp is effectively policed against criminal acts of violence and vigilantism.
  • Take measures to remove the conflict of interests within the steering committee and restore the steering committee to a meaningful and effective tool for the benefit of all of the listed beneficiaries of the Symphony Way Scheme.

Alison Tilley of the Open Democracy Advice Centre, who works closely with the residents of Blikkiesdorp, said, “Blikkiesdorp was established by court order. The City is under obligation to accommodate them.”

But a community member, who spoke to GroundUp on condition of anonymity gives a different account to that of the people who fled to the church. He said what has happened in Blikkiesdorp had nothing to do with race, but was about crime.

“I do not understand why these people keep playing the race card. If anything, the coloured and blacks are working together. This is a fight against crime. The BJC members were not chased away. They left voluntarily. As a community only two people were chased out of Blikkiesdorp. Those two people were chased out because one of them’s son-in-law was a well known gangster around here and he was feared and she harboured him. The second person was chased out because she is close friends with the woman whose son-in-law is a gangster. The rest of the families who left, were not chased away. They were standing with the two that were chased away,” said the resident.

Regarding infighting in the BJC, the resident said, a decision was taken by the community to disband the previous BJC because it was not inclusive. “A new committee has been formed which is more inclusive to everyone and all races and it does not have a name yet. It is a committee that represents everyone in Blikkiesdorp.”

The resident said after a public meeting on Saturday, the community had no problem with letting those who left come back, as long as they did not come back with the two residents that were chased away.

The families who have sought shelter in the Methodist church say they would be there until Wednesday, and after that they did not know where they would go. The letter to the City states that “of their nine homes in Blikkiesdorp left by the families, four have subsequently been destroyed by criminals … and the remaining five have been unlawfully occupied”.

Claasen said they could not return to Blikkiesdorp as it was not safe for them.

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TOPICS:  Crime Housing

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