||Joubert, Pearlie (2007) 'We don't want to live in Delft' . Mail & Guardian : -.
||When Cape Judge President John Hlophe ordered a nine-week postponement
to the state's attempt to evict about 25 000 Joe Slovo residents from
their shacks in Langa, the 2 000 people outside court broke into wild
The 6 000 households of Joe Slovo have been opposing government's
attempts to remove them from this piece of land bordering the N2 highway
for close to three years now. Every week people are allowed to stay in
Joe Slovo is seen as another victory against the state's attempt to
remove them forcibly to the outskirts of Cape Town.
The housing ministry wants residents removed to make way for its
controversial flagship housing project, the N2 Gateway. Phases two and
three of this project have been on hold for many months because the
shack dwellers of Joe Slovo refuse to be moved to Delft - an area about
20km outside the city.
Government has been moving sections of Joe Slovo residents into
temporary relocation areas (TRAs) in Delft called "Tsunami" and
"Thubelisha" for the past three years.
Residents in Tsunami say the place got its name because "it's a disaster
waiting to happen".
The TRAs are made up of 24m2 houses closely packed together. A
Reconstruction and Development Programme house is generally 30m2.
Communal standpipes and communal ablution blocks stand between the
houses, which are prefabricated and made of corrugated fibre-reinforced
cement. There are no individual plots for each box house, which has one
Residents are loath to move to Delft because their social and economic
networks will be severely disrupted.
Many residents who have willingly moved to Delft earlier have lost their
jobs because they cannot afford transport or simply cannot get transport
from Delft into Cape Town. There is no railway line linking Delft to
The Development Action Group (DAG) has found that 63% of people who were
moved from Joe Slovo to Delft were either fired or retrenched from their
jobs because they were often late or simply did not arrive for work
because of lack of transport. Only 40% of the people in Joe Slovo are
employed, earning an average of R1 300 per month.
Delft has no electricity. Because there is no power, people spend large
amounts of money on paraffin. Policemen in Delft say the lack of power
here makes Delft "ungovernable" at night.
"Parts of Delft are pitch dark at night and it's virtually impossible to
do conventional and adequate policing here - the criminals use this and
robberies and rape are massive problems in Delft," a local policeman
This policeman, who does not want to be named, says the police are
finding "women hurting their babies" in Delft.
"The experts say it's because people are desperate and depressed. Last
month a women strangled her newborn child; three months ago a women
burnt her four-month-old child," he says.
Like most people sleeping in makeshift or non-permanent houses,
residents of the TRAs do not feel safe because the walls of their homes
can be broken with stones.
"I don't feel safe here because it's so dark at night and the crime here
is terrible. Thugs break your walls and come in through the door and
rape the women - it has happened to women I know," says Zoleka Mnani,
who voluntarily moved to Delft but wants to return to Joe Slovo.
"We don't want to live here - there are no schools, no electricity and
the only people making a good living here are the shebeen owners because
here in this dump everybody drinks," she says.
Mnani lost her job as a contract cleaner in Langa when she moved because
she could not afford the taxi fare to town.
Mbantu Mazikile came to Delft from Joe Slovo because he was promised
that he would be able to return once the N2 Gateway is finished.
"The ANC councillor promised that they will build us permanent houses in
Langa. My family and I left with only our clothes and bedding and with
the promise that we can return to Langa once they've built houses,"
The same councillor (ANC Langa councillor Xolile Qope) says people
should not worry too much about the lack of electricity because they
will only stay in Delft temporarily - it's already been two years.
"Every time a new truckload of people is dropped here, my promise loses
a bit of its value. It's very painful," he says.
Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and the project managers of the project,
Thubelisha Homes, went to the Supreme Court two weeks ago seeking an
eviction order to remove the remaining Joe Slovo residents.
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