Clairwood residents respond to rezoning propoposal
Sundree Pillay, 74, grew up in Flower Road long before Clairwood was cut in half by the M4 Southern Freeway in 1969.
Cherry Road Café owner Anwar Osman has no plans to move out of Clairwood.
"In those days we all lived in tin houses and people used to call it Little India. Most of the people are gone now, but we are still a close-knit community.
"I have lived here for 60 years. We are pioneers. Where would we go to? How could we afford to build new houses?"
Brothers Anwar and Younus Osman say they have no plans to move away.
"We are not going anywhere," says Anwar, who owns the neatly painted Cherry Road Café.
"It doesn't matter whether you live in Clairwood, Merebank, Wentworth, the Bluff or Umbilo. Now is the time for all of us to stand together because, if Clairwood goes industrial, it is only a matter of time before the other areas fall in the same way - like a row of dominoes."
The Osmans say that, while they are determined not to move out, some residents will be tempted to sell up and go when developers start waving cheques in their faces.
When that happens, the environment for his extended family will be swallowed up by even more truck yards and warehouses.
Most of Rajeev Pattundeen's family were born in Flower Road. Although he now lives in Westville, Pattundeen is a regular visitor to the Yuvak Arya Samaj educational and cultural centre in Cherry Road, Clairwood, where nearly 100 children and adults attend weekly Hindi language, music or classical dancing lessons.
"I have a strong emotional connection to this place," he says.
"Our house is still standing, but it is very sad to see how much decay has happened since the 1950s. It is terribly unfair to the people who have invested in the area. The council is turning a blind eye to what is happening because they seem to have another agenda for the future of Clairwood."
Granny flats have been turned into offices and entire properties into truck yards by "unsavoury elements and opportunists".
Pattundeen rejects the eThekwini council's proposals for Clairwood residents to abandon the area to industry, leaving behind their temples, mosques, churches, cemeteries and listed historical buildings.
"It's crazy - it would be like building a temple in the Riverhorse Valley industrial park. No one would go there if people don't live there."
The Shree Soobramoniar Temple in Sirdar Road was established almost 120 years ago.
The solution, he says, is for the council to abandon the rezoning scheme and rather redevelop the suburb and enforce by-laws to maintain its residential character.
Rondo Govender, a 52-yearold taxi driver who was born in Dayal Road, is also bewildered by the latest rezoning proposal.
Govender is among a group of self-employed residents who run as taxis a fleet of immaculately maintained Chrysler and Datsun saloons dating back to the early 1970s.
With a black beret on his head and waiting for his next customer in his canary yellow 1972 "Formula S" Chrysler, Govender and his 40-year-old taxi appear to be anachronisms, symbolic somehow of the resilience of many Clairwood families who have refused to quit the area despite decades of neglect by the former Durban city council and the eThekwini municipality.
"This soil has a lot of memories for us," he says.
"If they want to dig out a harbour, why can't they expand without interfering with the people?"