Hadji Ebrahim residents welcome their proposed move and re-blocking

Community leaders Aisha Olyn and Gina Tamana say the community welcomes the proposed move, as it will create more space between shacks.

Residents of Hadji Ebrahim informal settlement in Belgravia have welcomed the motion put forward by Ward 48 councillor, Magedien Davids, to move the settlement to two adjacent pieces of land.

At the latest Sub-council 17 meeting, Mr Davids said the informal settlement was currently situated on private land, making it difficult to install electricity or ablution facilities.

He proposed that it be moved to an adjacent piece of vacant land, which is owned by the City of Cape Town. He also proposed that the City buy another adjacent plot, which is also privately owned. He says moving the residents to the two adjacent properties would make re-blocking possible.

Re-blocking involves reconfiguring the layout of informal settlements by grouping shacks into clusters and re-organising them to open up pathways. This will prevent the spread of fire among densely-built shacks, and make service delivery more accessible.

Mr Davids said the Hadji Ebrahim and Hood Road informal settlements would then be accommodated on the proposed adjacent sites.

On Sunday February 14, several structures at Hadji Ebrahim caught fire resulting in the destruction of 24 shacks, leaving more than 80 residents, including children, homeless. Since then, many have slept outside, as they had no building material to rebuild their homes.

Community leader, Aisha Olyn said they have asked before to move further back to where they currently are situated.

“This will create more space. We want the re-blocking. We are also tired of hearing that we cannot get any electricity, water or toilets, because this is private land. I have been living here for 27 years, and we are all tired of struggling,” Ms Olyn said.

Another community committee member, Gina Tamana said they would meet Mr Davids tomorrow (Thursday March 25) “to talk about housing”.

“We are looking forward to the re-blocking, but we don’t want zinc structures if they are moving us. They can rather use vibracrete or house us in containers,” said Ms Tamana, who has lived there for 20 years.

Mr Davids said he had appealed to the public for building materials, but they had not received any.

Part of Mr Davids’ motion reads: “The residents have been on the Hadji Ebrahim property for over 20 years and have established a tight community. Furthermore, the proposed land is currently vacant and not earmarked for any future use. If the city becomes responsible for the re-blocking then proper planning and management will prevent extensive damage due to fire or other hazards.”

During the Sub-council 17 meeting, proportional representative (PR) councillor, Yagyah Adams, said he would prefer that the Hadji Ebrahim community be completely removed from the area.

“Beggars can’t be choosers. You are getting free homes, electricity, and you still want to tell people where you want to go, yet, we, as taxpayers cannot do that,” he said.

He also blamed the residents for the crime and unsanitary conditions in the area.

Anwar Adams, another PR councillor, accused Yagyah Adams of lacking humanity.

“Issues like this are close to the heart. We must remember, they are also people, irrespective of their status.

“Yes, there are social ills, but there are children also involved here. The neighbouring community complain about the effect it has on the value of their property, and Yagyah you are one of them with no humanist perspective,” he said.

“Who will this action of moving them away benefit? What audit has been done in terms of workplaces and the schools the children attend? If it is of no benefit to the community of the informal settlement, then they must stay as they are.”