Bo-Kaap vows to continue protest

Bo-Kaap residents at a boeka protest on Friday May 25.

Bo-Kaap residents have vowed to not back down in their protest against development, which they say threatens the heritage value of the area.

The community has been peacefully protesting against the developers and the City of Cape Town, with protests reaching boiling point last Monday when younger residents burnt tyres in the road.

The protests continued every evening last week, at the intersection of Wale and Buitengracht streets, resulting in traffic chaos into the Bo-Kaap.

When ward councillor Brandon Golding addressed residents in Bo-Kaap on Wednesday May 23, he was handed a memorandum of demands.

Among other things, the residents are demanding that no City land must be sold to developers but must be made available for affordable housing to address overcrowding in the area.

Residents also want tourist buses to be prohibited from driving or parking in the area.

They also want a traffic plan for the area to be implemented, and a dedicated MyCiTi route roll-out.

The residents have called for tariff hikes to be scrapped and for the installation of water meters without consultation, to be stopped.

The chairperson of the Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers’ Association, Osman Shaboodien, said they handed Mr Golding the memorandum of demands because they wanted the City to know their grievances and warned that they’d continue to protest in every way possible.

He also accused councillors of not having much to do because they were “remote-controlled by the bureaucracy of the party”.

On Friday May 25, the community held a mass iftaar (boeka) protest in Wale Street which saw hundreds of residents and children gathering along the road to break their fast together – and voice their concerns.

The leader of Leeuwen Street Mosque, Darwood Terblanche, said they would fight for the community because it was their forefathers who had spent their money beautifying the homes in the Bo-Kaap.

“It’s important to understand that the Bo-Kaap is in Ward 77. We’re centred in a white area, we have been controlled by the white regime in the past and we’re still controlled 24 years later, we’re a minority in this ward,” he said.

Mr Terblanche also accused the City of pumping money into areas like Sea Point, Green Point, Vredehoek and Gardens to keep their voters satisfied. “We need to strategise how we are going to vote next year. United, we’re strong. Gentrification is a serious thing,” he said.

Mr Shaboodien added that they would bypass the City, the Western Cape government and direct their concerns to the ANC-led national government.

On the developments that the residents are protesting against, the City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, Brett Herron said there was a lot of misinformation about the heritage protection status of the Bo-Kaap, and developments in the area in general.

Arguing that the City was not prioritising developments in the Bo-Kaap over protection of heritage assets, he said the City’s role was to ensure that the appropriate development took place in the appropriate space.

“The Bo-Kaap is part of the Cape Town city centre, and as such it is to some extent experiencing the development pressures mostly on its periphery where there are high-order roads like Strand Street and Buitengracht,” said Mr Herron.

Touching on proposed tarrif hikes, Mr Herron said the City offerred extensive support in terms of rates and tariff rebates to indigent homeowners to ensure that residents could afford to stay in the homes that they owned or rented.

He said homeowners in the Bo-Kaap who were finding that the value of their property had increased to such an extent that they could not afford the property rates, were entitled to rates rebates based on their household income.

“Resident homeowners have benefited from the growth of our city centre through increased home values. Having a home which has significant financial value due to its locality is a significant asset to own.

“Where families are unable to afford the property rates and services tariffs due to these rising values and low income, they have access to the City’s extensive rebate system which is intended to support low-income or fixed-income families so that they are not taxed out of their homes,” he said.