Blikkiesdorp community protest after years of waiting for houses

They say their structures are falling apart and the area has become unliveable

By Vincent Lali

8 March 2024

Shack dwellers from Blikkiesdorp in Delft, Cape Town, blocked traffic on Symphony Way with burning tyres on Thursday. Photo: Vincent Lali

Shack dwellers from Blikkiesdorp in Delft, Cape Town, blocked traffic on Symphony Way with burning tyres on Thursday. They were demanding that the City give them “proper houses”. Police were called to disperse the protesters.

Over the years people have been relocated to Blikkiesdorp for various reasons.

Patricia Manuel, originally from Belhar, was placed in Blikkiesdorp in 2010. She said they were told the relocation would be for six months.

She said after all these years her structure was no longer suitable for human habitation.

“We shift our beds and other pieces of furniture around to avoid leaks when it rains in winter … The City never maintained or renovated the temporary houses,” she said.

“Now we use our kids’ grants to buy materials to fix leaks, also to buy building materials to extend our shacks as our families are expanding,” she said.

She said the communal toilets are damaged and have no doors. For their children’s sake they have tried to install toilets inside their homes.

She said illegal connections damage electricity transformers and people in Blikkiesdorp go for months without power.

“We collect firewood from nearby bushes and make fires outside to cook,” she said.

The stormwater drains are blocked and water runs in the streets. They also have to contend with illegal dumping.

Manuel said emergency services won’t enter the settlement at night because of criminal activity. “They come only when it is light the following day. We cannot continue to live under these conditions,” she said.

Fagria Brett said she was allocated her temporary home in 2008.

“My shack is very cold and leaking,” she said.

She stays with her grandson and husband, who is in poor health.

“I have been waiting for a house for 31 years. I applied in 1994,” she said.

“We were supposed to move into new RDP houses in 2021,” said Andrew Badenhort. But the Access City housing project near Stellenbosch Arterial Road has stopped.

Mayco member for human settlements Carl Pophaim confirmed that the project for Blikkiesdorp beneficiaries is on hold, following “murder and extortion”.

Pophaim said Blikkiesdorp was not established as a temporary relocation area but for people facing housing emergencies. It has since been decommissioned as an emergency site.

Over the years, qualifying residents have been moved to subsidy housing “as opportunities have become available”.

Regarding electricity, Pophaim said it fell under Eskom.

Blikkiesdorp residents say the City of Cape Town is not cleaning up illegal dumps in their area.