Irate Seawinds residents are refusing to allow the temporary relocation of three destitute families whose shacks have fallen into sinkholes in Overcome Heights.
Southern Mail was at the scene on Saturday April 21 when ward councillor Gerry Gordon and law enforcement tried to reason with the people.
Ms Gordon said she was aware of the shacks in Overcome Heights, situated opposite Seawinds, which needed to be repaired.
“However, we need to relocate these families and we have earmarked temporary City of Cape Town land. This is an emergency and the sewerage pipeline which runs along the informal settlement needs to be fixed.”
However, the people of Seawinds do not want the planned relocation of the affected families to the earmarked property.
Mervyn Gouws of Seawinds said the City has to find other open spaces in the area, but not “on our side”. “It will cause chaos here. We have houses and it will bring our property values down if they put up shacks.”
Other Seawinds residents said this was not the first time that people from Overcome Heights had to be relocated to have their shacks fixed. They also said they “fear” these “temporary” shacks will become permanent on their side. Meanwhile, Fouzia Cassiem, an Overcome Heights community leader, said she had been trying to get through to ward councillor Gerry Gordon about the sinkhole crisis.
“This crisis is affecting the health and safety of families due to the sewerage pipeline which runs through the informal settlement.”
Ms Cassiem said Overcome Heights was built 13 years ago.
“It is about time the City builds us houses. The community members are working hard to fix the place, while the ward councillor and City officials are not doing their job,” she said.
Johanna Mashaba, who moved in to Overcome Heights in 2006, said they are seven families in seven shacks who are living on the same plot and said luckily she and her family were not at home when her bed fell into the sinkhole during the day.
“Imagine it was at night, while we were sleeping on the bed?”
Ms Mashaba said this is not the first time her shack had to be stripped and rebuilt. “I left for Johannesburg and when I came back on December 18, this also happened. The materials we are stripping are still brand new.”
Remember Mkhonto said they are four people in the shack and after a section of their place fell into a hole, they slept in the garage. “It is very cold and I have a five-year-old boy. We slept in the garage because we were afraid the whole place will cave in.”
Eddie Andrews, Mayoral committee member for area south, said: “The City is aware of this issue. The sinkholes are occurring due to the collapse of a sewer main in the area.
“The City has, however, been unable to perform repairs to date as residents of the area have built structures on top of the main. These families will need to be relocated before repairs can take place.”
“There is, however, not enough available land in the area for each affected family to be assigned a plot the same size as their current structure, and hence affected families have until this point been reluctant to move as this would significantly impact their living arrangements.”
Mr Andrews said recognising the potential seriousness of the situation, “the City is working hard to explore alternative temporary living arrangements for these families while work takes place, but has explained in consultation with community leadership that a degree of inconvenience to these families may be unavoidable if we are to prevent even more serious consequences further down the line.”
He said a contractor is on standby to proceed with repairs when agreement is reached to relocate the affected residents.