By Shakirah Thebus
Different areas across the Western Cape are set to participate in a total shutdown called for by the Gatvol Capetonian movement. The shutdown is expected to take place on Thursday 8 August between 05:00 until 11:00 and will see community members, mostly backyard dwellers and activists from the Cape Flats, shut down all major arterial roads including highways into and out of the Cape Town CBD.
Fadiel Adams of Gatvol Capetonian says 13 areas are involved in the shutdown and a few other areas are expected to come on board. Some of them include Beacon Valley, Tafelsig, Eastridge and Woodlands in Mitchells Plain, Parkwood, Lavender Hill, Kensington, Factreton, Ocean View, Elsies Rivier, Delft, Bo-Kaap, Ottery- Egoli informal settlement and Mamre. A few other informal settlements are yet to be confirmed as well.
Adams said that the objective of the total shutdown is to show the government that the people, especially backyard dwellers are not happy with being overlooked when it comes to housing opportunities.
“The City of Cape Town has so many by-laws in place and the one I found most irritating is that you cannot breed dogs in a backyard, but you can breed children (there). I’ve got a serious issue with that.”
“We have grandmother’s dying in backyards. We have children born in backyards, having children in backyards.”
“We want the right to return… We want to go home. Our ghettos are full. We know who the original owners of this land are. We come from Constantia, Diep River, Rondebosch, Woodstock, Bo-Kaap and District Six. This is where we come from. We want to go home.”
Adams stressed that this is not a political issue but a community issue that highlights the social and economic imbalances in our society.
“The City cannot build houses for all of us. National government cannot build houses for all of us but you can give us our land back. You can give us our dignity back. We can go and we can live where we were born…where are parents were born. If you want your dignity back, you will have to stand up,” he stated.
“If you are tired of living in a backyard, of paying rent for something that will never be yours… of the indignity of not having your own toilet. You need to stand up!”
The movement is focused on addressing the lack of housing for coloured people; apartheid-spatial planning and lack of housing opportunities close to places of employment.