Nomzamo relocation met with racism

Evicted Nomzamo residents were relocated to Blackheath yesterday, a move slammed by locals.

Evicted Nomzamo residents burning tyres in Blackheath as they refused to be relocated to a new piece of land where they were expected to build their houses on 9 June 2014. Picture: Renee de Villiers/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Racial tensions are now marring Cape Town's eviction drama.

After hundreds of people were forcibly evicted from their homes in Nomzamo, an informal settlement near Strand last week, authorities tried to relocate some of the evicted families t o open land in Blackheath.

But the move has been slammed by Blackheath residents.

Evicted Nomzamo residents in Blackheath as they refused to be relocated to a new piece of land where they were expected to build their houses on 9 June 2014. Picture: Renee de Villiers/EWN.

Nomzamo residents were forcibly removed because the land they were squatting on illegally belongs to the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral).

The roads agency obtained a court interdict to have all illegal squatters evicted last week, as it plans to build roads in the area.

Watch: _Cape evictions leave hundreds homeless _

But when authorities tried to place the evicted families on land in the Blackheath area on Monday, some locals took issue with the relocation.

And while the Blackheath community says it does not want to be dragged into the controversial land issue, Nomzamo residents say they just want a piece of land to rebuild their lives.

On Monday afternoon, standing across the road from each other, Nomzamo and Blackheath residents traded racist insults.

Blackheath resident Ransina Jafta says they don't want an informal settlement in their backyard.

"There'll be a lot of violence. Those people come with sticks and pangas."

But Nomzamo informal settler Vernonica Lujade says all they want is a home.

"We are scared that the government can vandalise our houses again. But we will not be comfortable to sit here and stay here for a long time."

Some Blackheath residents however say racism has nothing to do with their opposition to Nomzamo evictees being re-settled in their neighbourhood.

Backheath local Johan Strauss insists it's not a racial issue.

"The concern of the residents is not about the colour, it's about their property, their security and the value of their property. We don't need a debate, it is logical that there are security fears."

The issue has also been politicised, with the Democratic Alliance and the African National Congress pointing fingers at each other over the debacle.

Watch: Nomzamo evictees in conflict over land

Meanwhile, Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille believes talks with Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, regarding the Nomzamo evictions, are crucial in finding a permanent solution.

The mayor wrote a letter to Sisulu, requesting an urgent meeting on Monday.

De Lille says talks are the only way to help ease tension and settle the debacle.

"There are some legal requirements, in terms of the less formal Township Establishment Act and as political leaders in our country; we need to make sure that we stick to the letter of the law."

But Sisulu says the provincial government should also take responsibility for the eviction drama.

The human settlements department intervened after the evictions took place last week.

Sisulu says she feels Western Cape Premier Helen Zille should have taken responsibility for the situation from day one, instead of watching people suffer during the cold and wet weather conditions.

Sisulu adds she is working with all stakeholders to find a solution.

She says two of her main priorities are to make sure children attend school and that those who work do not lose their jobs.