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So Why The Hell Did Hout Bay Erupt Into Protests Last Week?

Story from: 2oceansvibe.com

[imagesource: Katie Warren]

I was fortune enough to grow up in Hout Bay – the Republic, as we called it – born, raised and schooled in the valley.

Like many Capetonians I followed the protests that erupted last week closely (our story HERE), and watched on in horror as Facebook groups erupted into arguments and hate and vitriol.

Social media has never been the place for sound, rational arguments, but it’s amazing how one-eyed some residents can be when incidents like this occur.

The wanton destruction and intimidation is wrong, and people need to be held accountable for their criminal actions, but before hurling your own stones it’s worth taking a look at what led to this mess.

GroundUp have a fantastic piece on how this played out, so let’s get stuck in:

On 11 March a devastating fire in Imizamo Yethu left several thousand people homeless. It was one of the worst shack fires in recent history in the Western Cape, but it was neither the first nor the last in Hout Bay…

After the fire, the city announced plans to “superblock” [creating a formal layout on an informal settlement with spaced plots, services, access roads and pathways] Imizamo Yethu. It committed over R90 million to the project and an additional R44 million for electrification. The problem was that for reblocking to take place, people who had lost their homes would have to wait longer before they could rebuild their shacks.

In April, Mayor Patricia de Lille announced that the community had agreed to the plans. She said at a press conference held with community leaders that reblocking would be done in three months. But even as she said it, some residents had already begun rebuilding their shacks, making it impossible to proceed with reblocking.

It’s around this time that things started to go wrong and not everyone was happy with the City’s plans for reblocking. Residents who were moved to temporary relocation areas nearby left to find shelter elsewhere due to the crowded living conditions.

Crowded doesn’t mean it was slightly cramped, it means there were families of six and up living in temporary one-room, three-by-three-metre shacks on a sports field.

Then there’s what happened to those who rebuilt:

In the first days after the fire on 11 March, some shack owners started to rebuild. The city immediately responded with demolitions. On 19 March the city obtained a court interdict against people rebuilding their shacks…

Some residents did agree to stop rebuilding and kept to this…Others however wanted the city to present clear plans on paper with time frames and a memorandum of agreement. These were not forthcoming and so they rebuilt. By the end of May, the area for reblocking was almost completely filled with shacks…

Frustration over delays in reblocking and anger about the absence of a memorandum of agreement with the city bubbled over in July. Protesters said they were tired of having to live in temporary shelters with seemingly no end in sight. They had also had to endure an awful Cape Town storm while in the temporary shacks. They took to the streets in violent protests.

Remember that monster storm you followed online whilst tucked up in your PJs? Now imagine being crammed into a tiny tin room on a sports field, months after you were promised your shack would be rebuilt.

All the while, you’ve been watching those who aren’t obeying the City’s instructions erect shacks where yours once stood.

Again, violent protests and a lack of regard for the law aren’t something we should tolerate, but guess what happened following the disruptions?

That’s right, Mayor Patricia de Lille committed to speeding up the process.

This one is far from over, because the City will now have to relocate more than a thousand people who have signed a petition against being moved, as well as demolish the shacks that are currently standing where they shouldn’t, but the protests did kick the effort into fifth gear.

The final word to GroundUp:

The city has made mistakes in the reblocking process. Residents remember unfulfilled promises. But the multitude of un-nuanced tweets and Facebook comments condemning either the city or the protesters show a lack of understanding of how complex and frustrating the situation is for all involved.

You have a right to feel angry about your property being destroyed, you have a right to be angry about intimidation on the streets where you live, but people also have a right to have their basic human needs seen to.


This post is from 2oceansvibe.com. Click here to read the full text

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