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Monday Jul 09, 2012

Blikkiesdorp anger at residents who sell or rent out housing

Blikkiesdorp community leaders say residents have been illegally selling or letting structures which have been allocated to them as temporary homes.

The City of Cape Town has confirmed that it was aware of the practice, but added that it was difficult to monitor or control.

Community leader Beverley Jacobs said residents found alterative accommodation, sometimes in relatives' backyards, then collected rent of at least R300 a month from their tenants - mainly foreigners.

Structures have also been sold for up to R3 000, she added.

"People are here because they cannot afford homes, yet some are taking advantage to make money. It is sad to see when you consider how many people are out there without homes."

Jacobs said tenants and "new owners" often sneaked into Blikkiesdorp at night.

"We only notice these new arrivals the next morning when we see a new family living there," she said, adding that there were similar cases in surrounding temporary relocation areas.

Jacobs said con artists had also been preying on people, demanding advance rent in exchange for fictitious accommodation, and then disappearing with the cash.

One foreigner said a man offered her accommodation for R300 a month and asked for three months' rent in advance.

"He told me to go to an address in Blikkiesdorp but when I got there another family was living inside. They knew nothing about the man or any deal. I tried to call him again but the number was no longer in use. I had to borrow that money from friends and now it's gone."

She had moved in with her sister and four children because she had nowhere else to go.

Jacobs said the number of cases had increased and that dozens of residents had been complaining to her over the past few weeks.

She had raised the issue with the city numerous times but there was little or no action. Now residents had taken matters into their own hands.

Several foreigners had been assaulted after the community come to the conclusion their occupation was illegal.

"I understand that it is difficult to monitor but the main problem is that there are simply no regular checks. If people are reported they can quickly return when officials come knocking. This has made the community frustrated."

Hanif Loonat, chairman of the Western Cape Community Police Forum, said gangsters also used Blikkiesdorp as a place to hide. The area served as a perfect refuge for criminals, he said.

Ernest Sonnenberg, mayoral committee member for human settlements, was unable to say how many structures had been sold or let.

"This happens from time to time but is very difficult to monitor. In most cases the local residents will report such activities, and in some cases matters of this nature will be reported to our office when deals between the original occupant and lessee go sour."

Foreigners were not allowed to move into Blikkiesdorp, unless they were married to a South African. Only 40 foreign families had been allowed to move into the area after xenophobic attacks in surrounding areas in 2010.

Sonnenberg said the city would do more than random and regular checks in an attempt to prevent the illegal selling and letting of structures.

"We are also currently embarking on a full-scale survey to validate and update our current database."

Weekend Argus (Saturday Star)


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