By Ra-ees Moerat
Residents in Blikkiesdorp deem the compound as a camp built in ‘inhumane living conditions’ – frankly described as a “hell hole”. The area, which was established some 10-years-ago, acts as a temporary relocation for desperate families who await permanent low cost housing.
HOPE – HIV Out-reach Programme and Education – Cape Town in Blikkiesdorp hosted Voice of the Cape on Thursday, for a live broadcast. During the broadcast, a number of the camp’s inhabitants testified to crime and gang violence being the primary concern.
Social Worker at the Centre, Maria, who has been working in Blikkiesdorp for the past three years, says she first started working with the adults in the camp, but later recognised a greater need for educating the kids on dealing with authority.
“We teach the kids basic things like how to build a puzzle and how to hold a crayon. We teach them to sit in their desks and only get up when we tell them to do so. In the process we also educate the parents on taking responsibility for their kids,” she says.
Resident of Blikkiesdorp, Jo-Anna Gertse, who’s been living in the camp for eight years, says the crime rate in the camp is so high that you simply cannot leave your home unattended. She says someone needs to be present at all times
“The problem is the criminals in the area. They break into my shack and steal my possessions. It is such a disturbance. You can’t leave your home without someone being there to watch over your things,” she says.
A mother of two, Fatima says she is living under threat after making a case against some gangsters in the compound. She adds that her house has been broken into six times recently and that it breaks her heart to have her personal space invaded. She alleges that most of the criminals and gangsters in Blikkiesdorp are Muslim.
“We as a community try to stand together, but it is difficult. We also don’t really have a Muslim community that’s united because the majority of people who do wrong things in Blikkiesdorp are Muslim,” she says.
An anonymous Muslim lady who has six kids and resides in Blikkiesdorp says that charity organisations choose not to enter the camp any more, negatively impacting the already dire situation.
“The ill-discipline of some of the residents of Blikkiesdorp, together with the high crime rate in the camp, results in aiding organisations refusing to enter the camp out of fear for their own lives,” she testifies.
Overwhelmingly, residents are calling for the housing process to speed-up, most not wanting to integrate into a crime and poverty ridden area such as Blikkiesdorp.
“I wouldn’t mind returning to life on the street in the Company Gardens where living conditions is better than in Blikkiesdorp.” VOC