While Parkwood residents await the City of Cape Town’s official response to their housing demands, community organisations have planned protest action in a bid to keep the momentum around their concerns alive. Residents of Parkwood held a symbolic protest on May 19, 2018, in which they erected temporary structures on vacant land that is situated on Prince George Drive in Cape Town. Residents have been calling attention to the living conditions of approximately 1490 backyard dwellers, who currently reside on the premises of rental properties within the area. The protests turned violent when Law Enforcement officers forcibly removed the temporary structures days later. The City has since indicated that they have earmarked seven pockets of land for the resettlement of Parkwood residents who are in need of housing.
The chairman of the Voice of Parkwood pastor, Paul Phillips, explained that the Voice of Parkwood and the Parkwood Backyarders Association had planned protest action in a bid to keep the discussion around their demands alive as residents await response from City officials.
“We are sitting out now, because the government said we must give it thirty days, after which they will come back with a progress report. This coming week will be the thirtieth day,” Phillips stated.
Phillips said the department indicated that engineers and land surveyors would assess the usability of seven pockets of land that has been earmarked for residents.
“After we had our meeting with the Department of Human Settlements, with the MEC’s office and the City also sat in, the open land had been identified for human settlement.”
The organisors are demanding adequate housing for backyarders, as well as residents who are on the housing waiting list.
Phillips said that over 1000 families have already been recorded in their independent housing needs assessment.
While the organisors have not officially invited any City official to the march, they expect between 150 and 200 people to participate in the protest action.
He further noted that no symbolic erection of temporary structures will take place at the protest.
But, the chairperson of the Parkwood Backyarders Association, Dominique Booysen, asserted that the backyarders are not part of the protest action.
“It is the Voice of Parkwood that is organising the march. It has nothing to do with the Parkwood Backyarders Association,” he affirmed.
He urged residents to wait for the City’s response prior to engaging in protest action.
“The Parkwood Backyarders Association does not want to be part of the march, because I think we need to give the City of Cape Town an opportunity [to respond] – they have told us that they are willing to work with us.
“We are not participating in the protest, because sometimes when there is a march – it’s not a protest, it’s a march – then it leads to violence. We don’t even know if Voice of Parkwood has a permit for the march,” Booysen added.
The march is scheduled to begin at 14h00 on Sunday in Walmer Road and will proceed to a pocket of land in Hyde Road, Parkwood. It will conclude with an interfaith prayer session.