tbabhappy

 

The stench of human waste and rotting garbage hangs heavily in the heat.
With flies buzzing lazily around faeces, children use an empty beer crate as a makeshift car just a couple of meters away.
Years of refuse is scattered around the tiny community of illegal dwellers, who live just a few hundred meters away from Happy Valley in Blouberg Dunes.
Sporadic pockets of human settlements are well hidden in the lush vegetation on national department of public works (DPW) land.
Just over a kilometre to the west and to the south, people sit in comfortable houses, completely oblivious to the human plight on their doorstep.
TygerBurger and sector 1 community police forum chairperson Barrie Jarrett visited one of these dwellings last week, and the undeniable fact is that the humanitarian situation in what is known as Tokkietown, is dire.
The tiny community of about 20 people named the informal settlement Tokkietown, apparently a reference to the drug tik. One of the squatters claim his family have been living there for two years.
According to Jarrett, the residents recently received eviction notices from DPW.
If this is true, it leaves their future as dull as the colours of the faded Democratic Alliance election poster used to stop a wall from leaking.
According to the latest information, DPW believe they have already been removed from the land, the department of social development can only help in terms of connecting dwellers with family members, and the city can only provide interim relief for victims of fire or flooding.
Talks that DPW is in the process of transferring the huge tract of land (Erf 1117) to the city is apparently not true.
Siyabulela Mamkeli, the mayco member for human settlements, says the city is not involved in matters relating to this land.
“Should DPW require the occupants to vacate the land, it will be their responsibility to obtain a court order, normally carried out by the sheriff of the court, and to provide alternative accommodation for those affected, if the nature of the order requires this.”
At the time of writing, DPW had more than 100 hours to answer the eight questions asked by TygerBurger and in the process missed two of this newspaper’s deadlines.
Despite receiving the questions midday on Thursday, they only started giving attention to them on Tuesday morning, more than 10 hours after the first deadline.
The only information coming from DPW at the time of going to print was that the people living in the informal settlement were removed “a long time ago”, so according to them there is no Tokkietown.
DPW therefore “only now concern themselves with Happy Valley”.
Sihle Ngobese, spokesperson for Western Cape minister of social development, Albert Fritz, says they have contact with this group of residents after they were invited in July by the Concerned Residents of Blouberg (CROB) group.
“After an assessment of the situation by our social workers, the team embarked on a door-to-door exercise to reach out to the residents of the informal dwelling, and offered services to those who had expressed the desire for assistance.
“The key services sought were in assisting many of the residents to reconnect with family and relatives, and to verify if any child protection services were required. The department prioritised rendering assistance to the children who were found at this site,” said Ngobese.
To this effect, 11 families were assessed on 15 July and they were apparently all found to have family in Atlantis and reported they came to Happy Valley so they could be closer to job opportunities.
“Among the 11 families, only two families were found to be living with their children. Social workers from the department, with assistance from the local councillor, assisted in relocating the children from the two families to Atlantis,” he said.
If the children were relocated, then they must have returned to Tokkietown to live in squalor.
According to Ngobese, the team of social workers returned for a follow-up visit on 5 November (surprisingly on the very same day TygerBurger was there).
Humanitarian responseNgobese says they will remain in contact with the dwellers through their Metro North regional office and be available if any further assistance is needed.
“Who will help us?” asks one of the residents.
They have been approached by many different departments, councillors and members of the community, but their disconsolate cries for help remain unanswered.
Jarrett visits the dwellers regularly in his Community Policing Forum and private capacities.
On the one hand he responds to the objections from the residents in sector 1 and helps safeguard them against crime that seemingly originates from Tokkietown on Erf 1117, and on the other hand he hears the children cries and does what he can from a humanitarian perspective.
“Whose responsibility is it to care for them?” asks Jarrett.
“Who will find them alternative accommodation? What is to become of the children? It simply cannot go on like this,” he concludes.

*** 

Will clearing vegetation have an impact on vagrants occupying land illegally?
According to Sector 1 community police forum chairperson and exco member of Table View Ratepayers Association, Barrie Jarrett, clearing vegetation is bound to have a positive outcome.
Approximately 10 groups of people, who Jarrett describes as extremely aggressive, live next to Short Street in Link Road near St Chads Anglican Church.
They have apparently verbally abused Jarrett and passers-by on numerous occasions, abuse drugs and have contributed to the degradation of the area.
To make matters worse, the tiny stretch of land that they occupy is next to a school, and according to Jarrett the children must “watch the vagrants defecate” next to the overgrown bushes.
He has approached the City of Cape Town to clear the vegetation, but his solution was met with doubt.
Pat Titmuss, the regional manager of Environmental Resource Management Department, says “the obliteration of vegetation will not solve the social problem of vagrants in the area”.
One of her colleagues, Morton Arries, adds: “The emphasis must be on the root of these problems which is social in nature. From past experience in cases where the vegetation was indeed removed the drug problems and vagrants issues actually escalated.”
Jarrett replies by insisting that the removal of bushes and erecting fencing does indeed prevent vagrants and drug addicts from occupying land.
“We had a problem near the West Coast Family Church where a few displaced people occupied the land,” he tells TygerBurger.
“We had the fence extended, all the vegetation was cut back and we erected a no illegal dumping sign. If you go there now you will see the massive transformation.”
He adds that he has heard many stories of people being harassed by those living near St Chad’s.
The crime rate has apparently gone up during the six or seven months the vagrants have been living there.
One anonymous member of the public says that each week the situation appears to be spiralling further out of control.
“The area is filthy! There is even a rat infestation in the area,” he says.
Jarrett is doing his best to get authorities to erect a fence and, in particular, remove the vegetation, which acts as shelter and a make shift “washing line”.
“If this is indigenous or endangered vegetation then someone needs to urgently get these vagrants off the land. If not, then the next best thing is to remove the vegetation,” he concludes.
***DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE AND PHOTO WERE PUBLISHED IN TYGERBURGER, A CAPE TOWN BASED MEDIA24 COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER. NEITHER MAY BE DUPLICATED WITHOUT ACCREDITING THE SOURCE – TYGERBURGER, MEDIA24.***
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