Category Archives: symphony way

Transitory Citizens: Contentious Housing Practices in Contemporary South Africa

Kerry Chance, Social Analysis

This article examines the informal housing practices that the urban poor use to construct, transform, and access citizenship in contemporary South Africa. Following the election of Nelson Mandela in 1994, the provision of formalized housing for the urban poor has become a key metric for ‘non-racial’ political inclusion and the desegregation of apartheid cities. Yet, shack settlements—commemorated in liberation histories as apartheid-era battlegrounds—have been reclassified as ‘slums’, zones that are earmarked for clearance or development. Evictions from shack settlements to government emergency camps have been justified under the liberal logic of expanding housing rights tied to citizenship. I argue that the informal housing practices make visible the methods of managing ‘slum’ populations, as well as an emerging living politics in South African cities.


Transitory Citizens

M&G: Cape Town’s clean-up

Cape Town’s clean-up
GCINA NTSALUBA – May 21 2010 00:00

Tensions are running high in Cape Town over the city’s apparent relocation of poor and homeless people to Blikkiesdorp on the Cape Flats — an attempt, critics charge, to hide grim reality from visiting World Cup fans.

Blikkiesdorp was built by city authorities in Delft on the Cape Flats in 2008 and has since mushroomed. Its hundreds of corrugated-iron structures house about 3 000 people.

Homeless people claim they have been forced off the streets and taken there in an attempt to “clean up” before kick-off next month.

The city denies this, saying it is part of general policy.

“There has not and will not be a concerted clean-up campaign,” said city spokesperson Kylie Hatton.

Blikkiesdorp resident Sadica Abrahams (42), a single mother of two teenage boys, said that she had spent most of her adult life on the streets of Mitchell’s Plain and the authorities had never moved her before.

Abrahams claimed that were it not for the World Cup, she would still be sleeping in a tunnel in the township — but would prefer that to being “trapped in a World Cup dumping site” for the poor.

“The struggle is much tougher here than on the streets,” she said. “The law-enforcement people came to pick me up one morning last year and told me I must pack all my stuff and get in the car. They said if I didn’t, they would take my belongings and throw them away.”

Suleiman Mikkelson (40) said that he was forced to move to Blikkiesdorp from Woodstock, where he had lived under a bridge for nearly 10 years. Insisting he was moved because of the Cup, he said: “I don’t understand how the government expects us to live here. This place is like a concentration camp; there’s absolutely nothing.”

Mikkelson claimed begging on the streets and sleeping outdoors is better than living in a tin shack 40km from the city, as there are no jobs and nobody to ask for handouts, as everyone is poor.

‘Hasty cleaning-up campaign’

Jane Roberts (54), a Blikkiesdorp resident and the chairperson of the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, said that although the city will not admit it, the World Cup is the reason for its “hasty cleaning-up campaign”.

“I know we were moved out of Symphony Way [a squatter camp on the N2 highway] because of the Cup; there’s no other reason,” said Roberts.

The first thing many visitors see after landing at Cape Town International Airport are the shacks along the N2. “They don’t want tourists to see us and our shacks because it will ruin the image of the city,” said Roberts.

Blikkiesdorp was established when backyarders and shack-dwellers illegally occupied unfinished N2 Gateway houses in 2007. The city won an eviction order in early 2008 and the occupants were temporarily moved to Blikkiesdorp, said Hatton.

It has since been extended to provide emergency housing for occupants of unsafe or condemned buildings, homeless people and victims of xenophobic attacks, Hatton said. The city also received requests from people who wanted to move there.

But Roberts pointed to evictions from Spes Bona Hostel near Athlone Stadium — a World Cup training facility — after it had been occupied for several years.

Shehaam Sims, the mayoral committee member responsible for housing, denied that the hostel will be used for Cup-related activities. She said that it belongs to a school and that people were moved because it is unsafe.

Tin Town

Tin Town – Original from Barefoot Workshops on Vimeo.

Tin Town – Short Version from Barefoot Workshops on Vimeo.

Title: Tin Town

A Film By: Nora Connor, Clementine Wallace & Colton Margus

Produced By: Barefoot Workshops, Inc

Instructors: Alison Fast, Teddy Symes & Chandler Griffin

Sponsors by: Canon USA, Sennheiser, Bogen Imaging, Lowel, Litepanels

Created: February 2009, Cape Town, South Africa
Promised housing by the South African government, more than a hundred Cape Town families found community through their struggle as squatters on a sandy road known as Symphony Way. Recently moved by court order to an indefinitely temporary relocation area called ‘Tin Town’ in Afrikaans, community members reflect on that road in their past and on the road ahead.

Cape Times: Delft squatters shifted to Blikkiesdorp

‘on symphony way we were a strong, respectful community… i’m moving with a heavy heart’
Delft squatters shifted to Blikkiesdorp

October 27, 2009 Edition 1

Quinton Mtyala

HAVING been defiant for months, 23 of 127 families have relented and yesterday moved from pavement shelters in Symphony Way, Delft, to a notorious temporary resettlement area dubbed Blikkiesdorp.

Most expressed their fear at what awaited them at the row upon row of single-roomed corrugated iron shacks without water or electricity.

The move follows a Western Cape High Court ruling, which confirmed an earlier decision two weeks ago that sealed the fate of 127 families who had been squatting on a section of Symphony Way in Delft for almost two years after being evicted from N2 Gateway homes which they had occupied illegally.

Those still living on the road have been given until Thursday to vacate the area after mediation failed between the city and representatives of the shack dwellers.

Trucks hired by the City of Cape Town spent most of yesterday transporting families and their belonging the short distance to Blikkiesdorp.

Waiting for the contents of her shack to be packed on to one of the trucks, Matilda Groepe reflected on the community spirit that the shack dwellers had forged during their time living on the pavements. “Here on Symphony Way we were a strong and respectful community, there were hardly ever incidents of crime or violence here because people were organised and we had a singular purpose.

“I’ll be moving away here and into Blikkiesdorp with a heavy heart,” said Groepe.

Father of two Joseph Witbooi said he no longer had the will to fight after the community lost two court cases.

“I would’ve loved to move my family to another area but there weren’t any other alternatives but Blikkiesdorp and that’s not an ideal place.”

Mother of one Chantal Gertse, seated in her new home with bubble-wrap insulation, said the ideal situation for her would have been if the squatters had been moved into houses.

“Now I’m living here with my daughter and her father and to say that I’m fearful for her safety would be an understatement. I’m scared because children are raped here and also due to the substance abuse in Blikkiesdorp,” said Gertse.

City of Cape Town spokeswoman Kylie Hatton said the first day of moving had gone well due to a decision to stagger the process over four days.

“Over the course of the week the rest of the families will move.

“They’re moving in groups which minimises any possible disruptions.”

In a compromise with the community’s leaders during last week’s talks over their relocation, it had been agreed that the community would not be split up.

“We’re also maintaining the community structure. A new section for the people from Symphony Way has been set aside and people can also choose who they want to live next to since these relationships have been built up,” Hatton said.