It’s been just under two years since the informal settlement known as Cathkin Village was erected. The village sits adjacent to Cathkin High School. The land was a vacant plot off of Fifth Street in Heideveld. The people occupying the land are mostly elderly. Some pensioners have been on the City of Cape Town’s housing data base for over thirty years. There is no running water. There is no electricity. There are no toilets. This is their last resort.
Vanessa Adrianse, The Spokesperson for Cathkin Village says she took it upon herself to better the lives of the people living within the community by ‘taking’ the piece of land.
“I am not the City of Cape Town, I can’t take law into my own hands and I can’t make the City give accommodation to people even if they are compliant. All I can do as an activist is assist, and provide [for] them accordingly.”
A visibly upset Adrianse said she can relate, she too has spent her fair time on the street.
“I was also evicted in 2014 by the City of Cape Town because I occupied [an] illegal space but I think the only sin I committed was putting my children in a home and when they evicted me for the second time, I slept outside and lived outside for two months.”
Adrianse said that it is not okay that some of the backyard dwellers are over the age of sixty.
“It can’t be normal, it can never be normal. “Our backyard dwellers are dying, we still have old people that [are] pensioners over the age of seventy and eighty that are still living in a backyard, and it can’t be normal, it can never be normal.”
It has been alleged by Adrianse that the ward councillor for Heideveld has caused ample disputes between residents as well as not being able to properly fulfil his duties. “Our ward councillor that is supposed to help the people, should deliver services [promised] to our people. He is a paid public servant who is causing division between our people. [Just] last week he had an article published without any evidence or facts.”
VOC News tried to reach out to the councillor for comment but was unsuccessful.
Faranaaz Lakay, an elderly woman living in Cathkin Village said she has been on the City’s housing list for thirty years.
“I have been on the waiting list since 1995. Children that are 18 years old are receiving houses. It is completely unjust. I would just like to one day own my own house. We don’t have water, we don’t have electricity, and we don’t have toilets. It is very tough.”
Fatima Williams, a pensioner that was due for an angiogram and a by-pass surgery had to postpone because she has nowhere to recover.
“I am a cardiac patient and for three years I am staying here without nothing. I am thirty years on the housing list. So how is it possible that they can’t give me a house?”
VOC News has tried to reach out to the Mayco Member for Human Settlements on numerous occasions for comment but was unsuccessful.