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'We don't want to live in Tin Can Town'

By Anna Majavu | Nov 09, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

CAPE Town's homeless people have accused the metro police of forcibly moving them to the Blikkiesdorp "temporary relocation area" - only for the city's land invasion unit to evict them for invading land.

Sowetan interviewed eight adults and seven children who had been removed by police from some caves along the R300 highway where they were living.

They were placed in one of Blikkiesdorp's tiny shacks. But just two hours after the interview, the residents were evicted by the city's land invasion unit and their belongings dumped along a busy arterial road.

They told Sowetan that police had arrived at their caves three weeks ago, picked them up and "dumped them" in Blikkiesdorp, Delft, about 30km from Cape Town.

They said police told them they were "cleaning up" the bridges ahead of the 2010 World Cup.

The families say that Jimmy Jacobs, reportedly a city "temporary relocation officer", then put them all in one tiny room.

With a pile of thin pieces of foam stacked up against the wall of the tiny shack, one of the mothers said: "We want to see whoever controls Blikkiesdorp from the side of the city."

Renee Rose asked: "Why were we dumped here when there isn't even place for us?"

Another member of the group, Iris Davids, said Jacobs told them on Thursday that if they wanted one room per family, they should go back to their caves and wait to get on the "Blikkiesdorp list".

Nazley Petersen said she was picked up by the city police from another bridge and put in Blikkiesdorp.

"I lived so nicely under the bridge. By afternoon I collected enough money from begging to feed my family that night. But here, when you are hungry, you remain hungry," Petersen said.

City spokesperson Kylie Hatton said: "Jim Jacobs is a field officer employed by Informal Settlement Management in the Oostenberg area of the city. The allegations that he took them to Blikkiesdorp are untrue."

But on Saturday Hatton did an about-turn, saying "the families were temporarily placed in Blikkiesdorp today while their application for emergency housing is being processed".

Blikkiesdorp, or Tin Can Town, is a collection of 1500 one-roomed zinc shacks, built by the city at a cost of R30million. The area has no facilities apart from communal toilets and taps. Some parts of the area do not even have street lighting.

Despite it being a "temporary" relocation area where people transit before being moved into houses, many people say they have been there for four years and have dubbed the area "a concentration camp".


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