Residents from the Blikkiesdorp informal settlement situated near Cape Town International Airport marched to the Mayor office on Tuesday, where they demanded answers about the City’s plans to relocate them. Approximately, 80 protesters marched to the Civic Centre chanting slogans such as “Blikkiesdorp must fall” and “We want houses.”
Blikkiesdorp was constructed nine years ago on the borders of the Cape Town International Airport. While residents planned for a six month relocation, they continue to reside in the temporary location nine years later.
In a report that was commissioned by the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA), plans to upgrade the airport are outlined, which includes the relocation of Blikkiesdorp, along with the neighbouring Freedom Farm and Malawi Camp residents.
“Residents will be relocated due to safety concerns, irrespective of whether the runway is re-aligned or not,” the report stated.
Some Blikkiesdorp residents are set to be moved to land that is being made available on Symphony Way, where 2,738 housing units are to be constructed.
‘We want answers!’
Secretary of the Blikkiesdorp Joint Committee, Etienne Claasen, explained that the march was in response to a memorandum that was handed to the Mayor three months ago, which to date has not been replied to.
He further stated that on Monday the Mayor requested that the residents meet with her in response to calls for the march. The residents, however, decided to continue with their plans to march.
A memorandum was subsequently handed to the personal assistant of the Mayor.
The handing over of houses to residents of Heideveld in recent weeks has further frustrated the community of Blikkiesdorp who feel that their needs are not being met.
“We want to know where are we being moved to and when we are going to move – the City only works for some people but not for Blikkiesdorp.”
Claasen said that the community continues to face the harsh effects of Cape Town’s winter season and the lack of services.
“The place is flooded and we have to make use of buckets to scoop water out of our homes,” Claasen explained.
As a result of the poor living conditions, Blikkiesdorp residents face health issues, such as TB and high blood pressure.
The issue of crime, which has sparked outcries throughout the Cape Flats, also appears to be significantly worse on the streets of Blikkiesdorp, with no recourse from the police.
“You cannot leave your home unoccupied and even when you leave, gangsters will stab you because you don’t have something that they can steal – there is no future for our children, they are the next generation of gangsters,” Claasen said.
‘This is a temporary relocation’
Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements for the City of Cape Town, Councillor Benedicta van Minnen, explained that the City received the memorandum on Tuesday, 26 April, which will be responded to within seven days of receipt.
She further affirmed that Blikkiesdorp was always intended as a temporary relocation area and that many issues relating to the relocation of Blikkiesdorp is closely linked to plans of the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA).
Van Minnen said that the City cannot confirm any details about the relocation process at this point in time, as all planning relating to ACSA needs to be concluded.
The residents were relocated to Blikkiesdorp as individuals who were in need of immediate accommodation as part of national legislation.
“It was a way to accommodate people in need of housing while they await more affordable housing accommodation. Ultimately, the City is intending for everyone to move out of Blikkiesdrop,” van Minnen said.
“We encourage everybody to be on the waiting list, we don’t know if you will be in need of a home in the future.”