Threats to out Natural Resources
This article was originally published on page 3 of Cape Times on November 03, 2006
Water crisis forces council to move squatters
November 03 2006 at 10:50AM
By Anel Powel
The City of Cape Town says "it is acting" on the health and environmental hazards at Imizamo Yethu, where tests have found "potentially fatal" levels of contamination in storm water running through the settlement.
Some people in Hout Bay have threatened to take the council to court for failing to provide adequate sanitation facilities.
"We need to relocate people to thin out the settlement," said mayor Helen Zille's spokesperson Robert MacDonald.
'We are going to first see who is willing to relocate voluntarily'
He said the city was aware of the looming crisis and had warned in October that overcrowding and the building of shacks close to the reservoir would pose serious health risks.
"The informal settlement is so dense that city officials cannot get in to install services," said MacDonald.
An estimated 4 000 people are packed into the settlement.
MacDonald said city officials had begun meeting Imizamo Yethu residents on Thursday about the option of moving to settlements in areas such as Happy Valley near Simon's Town.
"We are going to first see who is willing to relocate voluntarily, but this process has to go ahead."
'The people are frustrated. This is no way to live'
MacDonald said the shacks of newcomers who settled in Imizamo Yethu would be demolished.
Attempts were also made by the former ANC council to resolve problems in the settlement and control numbers.
Then-executive mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo placed a moratorium on the demolition of homes of those registered as Imizamo Yethu's long-established residents.
Barry Wood, city manager of catchment, storm water and river management, said "further interventions" were being considered, "subject to technical and financial constraints".
A possible solution could be to build a second retention pond to moderate the flow of polluted water into the Hout Bay river.
Kenny Tokwe, of the Imizamo Yethu branch of the SA National Civic Organisation, said the community had been asking for more public toilets from the city, without gaining a response.
Tokwe said children who played near the polluted reservoir were falling ill. "The people are frustrated. This is no way to live."
There were no toilets at the top of the hill near the reservoir, while many of the public toilets below were closed because of vandalism, Tokwe said.
On a visit on Thursday, the Cape Times found there were only four toilets for an estimated 400 shacks.
Tests by Jo Barnes, of the University of Stellenbosch, have found an alarming nine billion disease-causing organisms in less than half a cup of water from Hout Bay's Disa River. She said this indicated a "huge pollution load containing large numbers of dangerous pathogens", with "serious health implications for the people living in the vicinity".
It is the opinion of our team that the living conditions of the community of Imizamo Yethu is the biggest contributor to pollution within the Hout Bay area. Lack of services and basic resources within this community leads to the pollution of the Disa River which has a knock on effect on the harbour area as well as the sea. This will eventually lead to an effect on sea live which will further impact on natural resources. This situation is an indication to us all of the impact of social, economical and political situations on our natural resources. We need to pay attention to all these factors before it is too late.
As a team we would like to set up a community structure between the various role players that can focus on finding solutions at the various levels to improve the situation.