Category Archives: Abahlali baseMjondolo Western Cape

AbM & AEC Statement: Floods Rock The City

Floods Rock the City

Joint AbM and AEC Press Statement
24 September 2008

Gugulethu — About 50 residents from Thambo Square informal settlement have been displaced from their homes to a local community hall as a result of flooding in their shacks (Cape Town’s heavy rain this winter has left a lot of people homeless in the City.

The devastated group early this morning marched to the office of their local Department of Social Development seeking immediate relief or intervention such as building material for their shacks, plastic to put over their roof, blankets and a temporary sleeping place. However all they were able to get from Social Development was an unpleasing response. People were told that the ANC government had nothing to do with their situation and they must go to DA. When trying to question the unpleasing response by government, instead of receiving a proper report, the police were called to intimidate and threaten the residents. Residents then went back to their flooded homes in Thambo Square informal settlement.

‘We don’t want their soup and bread we are not hungry maybe the reason why they ill treat us they think that we are here to demand food, we only need alternatives such as relocation to better suitable land or BNG houses, not desperate for food as they think’ said frustrated Libo Meyi (072 488 3025).

Unemployed Neliswa who has been staying at the area for the past 10 years said ‘we need distribution of roof sails and building material only’ (073 850 4291).

Noluseko is a mother of three children, and the floods left her with nothing (all her valuable furniture had been damaged by the rain): ‘I don’t talk about my hi-fi, TV and DVD they are dead as talking to you’ she said. ‘We don’t need food and blankets, we’ve got them and they are flooded even if they can give us blankets they’ll still be affected by water like our blankets, what we need from them we need houses, even if its wendy houses as they are provided to people at other areas such as Philippi, people at their areas do received R500 for disaster at other areas but not at this area why?’, she asked (071 919 7062).

According to Zoliswa Fuyani who has been staying at the area for more than 20 years the Ward Councilor does not want to listen to people who put her where she is today. When the ward counselor is called to listen to peoples grievances she will tell the people that she does not have anything to do with them.

A 55 years old lady who only wanted to be identified as Makhulu (who has been staying at Thambo Square for more that 11 years) commented: ‘my house is flooded and I had to go to families members asking a place to stay for my three grandchildren, they don’t have anything to eat and their clothes is wet and they only left with the ones that they are wearing’. Her only wish is for the current MEC for housing (who lives in Gugulethu) to visit their area so that he can see the appalling conditions that people are living under. ‘When Whitey Jacobs come here I want him to tell me when am I going to receive my house key’ she said (083 857 7780).

According to Vinus Nogqala, the problem at Thambo Square lies with community leaders who enjoy the power and playing politics with people’s plights. She had lost her son in the early 90’s because he was involved in politics. She was only compensated with R30 000 which she described as sweets. She is currently under TB treatment and is living with her 7 years grandson who had undergone a serious stomach operation at Grooteschuur hospital 3 years back. ‘I know how politics works and how people are exploited by politicians and I am tired of lip services and empty promise, what I desperately need is a proper place to put a head under’ she said. ‘We don’t need soup or bread we’ve got plenty at our places, the only thing that we need is a proper place to live at, and toilets.’

‘We don’t need anything from them as they always response with soup and blankets, we’ll make sure that we’ll reject them’ said devastated Silindile Mvambo who is 23 years old (078 355 7822).

‘People have passed away here because of double pneumonia who occurred as a results of their living situations, early his week one person died at this area and I want government officials to come and see themselves this things that I am talking about. We need proper houses and if they can’t at least they must try to alleviate the ground level as the area is below the ground level which makes it prone to flooding’ said 24 years old Siphokazi Bushman who is a community leader (0783298 321).

After 2 hours of engaging, community members decided to go to occupy the local community hall. Just 30 minutes after occupying the hall the Ward Councilor finally showed up to engage with the residents. Due to the high tension between the residents and the Ward Councilor, the Chairperson of newly formed Western Cape brank of the shack dwellers movement Abahlali baseMjondolo, Mzonke Poni, was asked to facilitate the meeting between the residents and the councilor. After 3 hours of engaging with the counselor the solution was found where it was agreed that:

1. The community hall will be available to community members until the rain is over.

2. The Ward Councilor will seek other disaster relief packages such as blankets and sleeping mattress.

3. The Ward Councilor needs to report the city of Cape Town so that a generator can be provided to pump the water out of the area

4. City of Cape Town needs to be pressurized to identify dry land to relocate people to. The land needs to be in Gugulethu or nearby, not outside the city in dumping sits such as Delft and ‘unhappy valley’ [Happy Valley]

The residents of Thambo square are receiving unlimited support from Gugulethu backyard dwellers who affiliate to Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign.

For more information please contact:

Mzonke Poni from Abahlali baseMjondolo 0732562036
Mncedisi Twalo from Gugulethu Backyard dwellers 0788508646
Zubenashi who is a community leader at 073 8858 599

Or any other people who contributed at this press statement, their numbers are available next to their comments.