This story is eerily reminiscent of US government treatment of poor, primarily African-American residents of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina devastated that city in 2005.
Thursday 26th July 2007, 4:00 pm
GRASSY PARK, CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA – The City of Cape Town is failing to respond to the desperate pleas of three shack settlements that have been hit hard by the storms sweeping Cape Town.
Civic Road, Kakaskraal and Zille Raine Heights are completely flooded. Residents say they are walking in water up to knee level. They have phoned several disaster management numbers belonging to the City of Cape Town and spoken to officials who promised to come out and do what they can to ease the residents plight, but these have turned out to be empty promises. Nobody has turned up.
More than 100 families have now been forced to put their electricity off for fear of being electrocuted.
The mainly unemployed residents say they are not equipped to deal with floods like the rich are.
“People must be brought disaster relief. Most of us here are not working. We want blankets, soup and plastic for the roofs People have been calling disaster management all day but nobody is coming,” said Lorraine Heunis, co-ordinator of the Zille Raine Heights Residents Association.
The City of Cape Town’s absolute failure to deliver any houses whatsoever for the poor is once again highlighted. The City of Cape Town has a policy of forcibly removing the poor from shack areas in the public eye to the wasteland known as Happy Valley, about 40 kms from the city centre. Happy Valley is a piece of unserviced land where Cape Town ‘s poor are dumped with “starter packs” to make their own shacks – these contain three sticks and a piece of plastic. Residents who have been dumped there have often been forcibly removed from relatively comfortable 3 room shacks with windows and doors.
Anti-Eviction activists report that Happy Valley is also currently flooded and the City is pretending that the people it has dumped there do not exist. Joe Slovo settlement in Langa is also completely flooded.
For comment from Kakaskraal and Civic Road settlements, please call Lorraine Heunis on 083 4319794.
For comment from Zille Raine Heights, please call Eleanor Hoedemaker on 072 4490436