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From fire into legal frying pan for Imizamo Yethu residents

20 September 2018 - 15:09 By DAVE CHAMBERS
Large parts of Imizamo Yethuwas destroyed in a massive fire in March 2016.
Large parts of Imizamo Yethuwas destroyed in a massive fire in March 2016.

Imizamo Yethu, the Hout Bay community often seen as a microcosm for the country, is heading the way of many other intractable problems - to court. 

Cape Town high court judge Monde Samela will attempt to unravel the row preventing the rebuilding of the mountainside settlement — much of which was destroyed in a massive fire in March 2016 — on November 12.

The dispute revolves around the City of Cape Town’s plan for “super-blocking”, which involves building roads for emergency vehicles and installing water, sanitation and electricity infrastructure.

A city council statement on Thursday said it needed to construct a new “Road One” into Imizamo Yethu, which required the removal of 200 families to temporary homes.

“Due to a number of grievances regarding the specifications of the proposed temporary accommodation and site, the residents of Road One have consistently rejected the city’s terms for relocation,” the statement said.

“Unfortunately, the city was left with no choice other than to apply to the Western Cape High Court for an urgent eviction order.”

The matter became even more complicated when the Hout Bay Ratepayers’ Association joined the fray by opposing the temporary accommodation site neighbouring formal homes in the suburb.

The city council said the thousands of Imizamo Yethu residents still in temporary accommodation after the fire were the main victims of the deadlock.

“While we are looking at all possible alternatives to continue with the super-blocking process, this ultimately rests on establishing a shared vision between all stakeholders for the future development of Imizamo Yethu,” said the statement.

“The city calls for calm until the court pronounces judgment on this matter and notes that any agreement reached will be contingent on compromises from all concerned groupings.”