In 2007, under the leadership of Helen Zille, the City of Cape Town set about building a temporary relocation settlement for families evicted from areas such as Salt River and Woodstock.
Since then, it has become a permanent hell dotted by shacks and characterised by poverty, violence and gangsterism.
The claustrophobic conditions contributed to the current racial tensions that threatens to explode into an orgy of violence.
However, despite the City of Cape Town’s refusal to acknowledge the tinder box that they have created, there are people on the ground that has worked hard to make sure that conditions improves for all people living in the area.
One such person is Etienne Claasen, a member of the Blikkiesdorp Joint Committee (BJC) which has worked tirelessly to bring formal housing to the people in the area.
This week however, Ettiene was forced to flee after black residents threatened their Coloured neighbours with violence, which include setting their homes on fire with them inside.
Ettiene says that the BJC secured a commitment from the Airport Company of South Africa that the residents of Blikkiesdorp would be included in its formal housing development project.
However, after this commitment was secured, a certain group of black residents formed a parallel BJC in order to take credit for the hard work of people like Ettiene.
The members of this parallel structure used race as a dividing tool to chase Coloured residents out of their homes for the purpose of moving in their family and friends.
With the Coloured residents out of the way, the members of the parallel structure could then make sure that their family and friends would benefit from the new development.
Ettiene however says that the members of the original BJC, including himself, are prepared to fight the parallel structure so that they can save the development agreement from collapsing.
He says that violence against Coloured residents started after a rumour was started that a Coloured gangster had raped a black woman.
“This led to the black residents retaliating and deciding that they would chase out the gangsters themselves, and they came to the conclusion that the gangsters here are coloured,” says Ettiene.
The retaliation led to Coloured people being beaten up and black residents coming to their homes with petrol, and threatening to burn it down.
Ettiene says that he was one of the people that was targeted and beaten up.
Resident, Jane Roberts, who lives with her daughter and two grandchildren aged three and ten, said that the ANC ward councillor, Xolani Ndongeni, as well as the police were of no help.
The councillor claimed that he did not know about the violence against the Coloured residents and said that the violence began after a shack was petrol bombed, destroying several surrounding homes.
Thus far, 8 families were forced to flee with their possessions, which include eight children, the youngest being six months old.
Ettiene however suggests that these incidents are not really about race, but about people using race to insinuate themselves into positions where they can benefit from the opportunities that will be created by the housing project.
Note: The original article appeared on www.GROUNDUP.org.za and edited using additional sources.