Sea Point residents reclaim the city

MATTHEW HIRSCH

The first Sea Point Reclaim the City campaign meeting took place last week Tuesday with about a hundred domestic workers and people seeking lower middle-income housing attending.

The Atlantic Sun reported on the campaign last week (“Inclusive housing focus”, Atlantic Sun, February 25). The campaign questions the provincial government’s decision to dispose of prime property on the Atlantic Seaboard and City Bowl.

The four properties in question are the Tafelberg School in Sea Point, whihc is already sold, as well as the Helen Bowden Nurses Home as well as the Top Yard in Gardens and the Alfred Street Complex in the CBD, which are up for lease.

Reclaim the City say that these properties can be better used for mixed-income housing rather than selling to wealthy private investors. They also claim that Tafelberg School has the potential for at least 250 mixed-income housing units.

Sheila Madikana, a domestic worker in Sea Point, said the area is in need of mixed income housing and there would be many who would benefit from it. She has encouraged fellow residents and people in the area to stand together on the matter.

“This is our time and we have to speak out. It is not an affordable time in Sea Point any more for us. As domestic workers and backyard dwellers we can’t live like this anymore. I think a lot of people here (at the meeting) have been living in Sea Point for years.”

Ms Madikana added: “The struggle that we are in now is too much. I am not going anywhere. I am here to stay because I grew up in Sea Point. My whole life is here and my kids were born here. We have to stand together. The rent in this area is not even value anymore. Food is getting more expensive, rent is getting more expensive. If there are people who are afraid or shy and don’t want to speak, don’t be afraid. We are all here together and if one is injured then we are all injured,” she said.

She stressed that they had to be a family and look out for one another.

“They want to take us from Sea Point and put us in Pelican Park. I don’t there is anyone here that wants to go there. Sea Point is our place also and we are a rainbow nation. I want us to stand together and put all our energy into this campaign. They are pushing us out from the places where we stay and where we work.”

Ms Madikana said it was important for people to talk and encouraged others in similar situations to join the campaign.

Daniel Knoetze, one of the organisers of the campaign at NGO Ndifuna Ukwazi, said it is sad to hear how the issue had affected so many people for so long. “People are struggling with rent going up, landlords not maintaining their buildings, not wanting to move out. Many people have had that experience.

“Cape Town is becoming unaffordable for working class people to live near the city, where they need to be for their kids to go to good schools and have access to working opportunities. What’s happening in Sea Point is systematic of what’s happening throughout the city,” said Mr Knoetze.

“This campaign has been launched around the principle of expanding affordable housing. It is also about protecting tenants and people already living in this area so that they are not pushed out. If the government owns land it should be considered as a public asset,” said Mr Knoetze.

He added that the meeting was about bringing people together and sharing their stories. The group also agreed to weekly meetings in Sea Point.

The provincial Department of Public Works, which owns the four properties, has so far refused to comment on the campaign. However, they have confirmed that they have been in contact with Ndifuna Ukwazi.

For more information about the campaign, log on to the Reclaim the City campaign Facebook page at www.facebook.com/events/1873660846193693/