root - May 30, 2023

The City needs to provide acceptable alternative accommodation say people who have been occupying municipal land on the Diep River floodplain for three years 

  • City serves a formal eviction notice to land occupiers in the Table Bay nature reserve near Parklands Dunoon 
  • Diep River occupiers vow to defy notice to vacate municipal land, would rather wait for formal eviction process.
  • City says land is uninhabitable and important for the city’s biodiversity.

Khayalethu Gazi, Buhle Mpande and Nontlantla Mdlekeza, are among the 358 families facing a consolidated eviction 

Peter Luhanga 

Formal notice to vacate the land they occupy was on 24 May served on 119 families who have been living on municipal land on the banks of the Diep River near Parklands North.

The families were given 21 days to comply, failing which the City would start formal eviction processes in accordance with the Prevention of Illegal Eviction (PIE) Act.

Other families on the same portion of land were served with a notice to vacate within 21 days on 22 March 2022. The occupiers did not move and are still there.

Similarly, the families recently served with notices to vacate, had occupied the land in July 2020 after being unable to afford rent in Dunoon due to loss of jobs and income-earning opportunities during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The families who were served with notices last year occupy erf 79, while those served with notices last month occupy erf 38295.

Both these plots, says City mayco member for spatial planning and environment, Eddie Andrews, are of significant importance to Cape Town’s biodiversity.

The land “contains endangered veld types and will be incorporated within the bordering Table Bay Nature Reserve as it is a priority for conservation,” said Andrews.

He said the land was also unsuitable for habitation as it is situated on the Diep River floodplain. 

“Occupying the floodplain also poses a risk of flooding of adjacent and downstream properties,” said Andrews.

He said the 119 informal structures had no access to services such as water, sanitation, and electricity. This is the same for the occupiers of erf 79.

Andrews said the people served with a notice to vacate erf 79 last year have ignored the notice, and should the occupiers of erf 38295also not comply, the City intends to launch a consolidated eviction application for both properties.

 But Residents on both sites say they will not relocate.

“I’ll die here. If they remove me from here, they must take me to place where there is a toilet,” said Andile Tokwe who moved onto the land in July 2020.

The father of three children said he shares his two-room shack with his children and partner. Tokwe said his children are now writing June exams. “If they remove me, the schools will be far. They must give me a house where my kid will have school’s nearby,” said Tokwe.

Nontlantla Mdlekeza, 37, a mother of five children between 16 months and 18 years-old, said she shares her two-room shack with all her children and her husband. Mdlekeza said she also moved onto the land in July 2020 during the Covid lockdown. She said she was a backyard dweller in Dunoon and could no longer afford paying R700 rent per month as she relied on child support grants for income.

She’s amongst the residents who first moved onto the Diep River floodplain but had to rebuild on higher ground within the Table Bay Nature Reserve close to Parklands after their homes were flooded following winter rains. 

She said the City served her notice to vacate the land on 24 May and pinned the notices on the doors or walls of the houses of those who were not at home. 

“We are stressed. My daughter is in matric this year and writing June exams. She says she is worried when she goes to school to come back to find her family home demolished,” said Mdlekeza.

“The city says this land is uninhabitable to stay, we don’t have a problem to leave but if they remove us they must provide us an alternative place to stay” she said.

She said they did not have toilets or any basic municipal services.

“When we need the toilet, we go in the bushes.”

“We want basic municipal services not notices to vacate,” said Khayalethu Gazi, chairperson of community leaders in the informal settlement.

Gazi said the city law enforcement is guarding the informal settlement around the clock and launched drones in the air to remotely monitor their activities.

“We are not going to relocate on our own. We don’t mind to leave but they must take us elsewhere where there are homes,” said Gazi.

He also said residents were prepared to defend their homes.

Andrews said the City makes provision for all eventualities, including relocation. 

“The city undertook numerous interventions to protect its land… there is ongoing surveillance of the area and continued law enforcement operations,” he said.

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