BLACK people in a new Cape Town gated village say they are being forced to relive apartheid by the mainly white homeowners association, which has taken control over their community.
The Capricorn Beach Homeowners Association clings to power in the 630-house development by continually attaching fines to the owners' levy accounts, the homeowners say. When the owners refuse to pay the fines they are prevented from voting at meetings.
Bevan Isaacs received a R500 fine earlier this month after complaining to security guards that they were failing to prevent burglaries at the housing project, which opened six years ago near Muizenberg Beach.
"It has been reported that you have been bad-mouthing our security and members of the homeowners association. This sort of behaviour will not be tolerated and a fine of R500 will be added to the levy account," wrote association representative Cecil Manuel to Isaacs.
Another letter calls on people to sign a petition to close down a nearby bar. "We must keep up the high standards set by us and prevent our community from becoming the next Mitchells Plain," says the letter.
Mitchells Plain is a derelict, crime-ridden community built by the apartheid government to house coloured people.
Another resident, Eddie Cottle, faces a whopping R122000 fine for building an extra room on to his house. The association had denied him permission to build the extra room.
And when Cottle got permission from the City of Cape Town's planning department to go ahead with the building, the association took him to court. They later withdrew the case but billed him R51000 for their legal costs - though the high court has yet to hand down a ruling on who should pay the costs.
Kenneth Appany alleges that the association fined him R7000 for building an extension to his house, despite the city council giving him the go- ahead. "It took me back to the 1980s. The Group Areas Act fell away and we had the opportunity to live here for the first time, but I didn't know it was going to be a nightmare."
But the association's vice-chairperson, Jeremy Stevens, said they were guided by their constitution, which gives them the authority to fine people.
But property lawyer Graham Paddock said: "The homeowners association does not have the right to use fines to stifle complaints."