NON -POOR ONLY
This ongoing series of public artworks references apartheid era signs by using a ‘NON-POOR ONLY’ sticker to draw attention to the normalization of Neo- Apartheid discriminatory laws and practices. In the South African apartheid state legislation discriminated against the vast majority of citizens who were deprived of land and further condemned to a life of servitude through inferior education and low-paying jobs while being denied access to services and amenities. Public signage was the visual and textual markers of exclusion and inclusion that was used on public transport, public amenities, private and state institutions and departments as well as businesses.
The vaunted dismantling of Apartheid did not however ensure a more equitable society. Social and structural inequalities are now perpetuated through the ‘market-friendly’, neo-liberal policies and trickle-down economics that were part of the negotiated settlement which continues to entrench Apartheid era spatial and economic divides and serves to exacerbate and reinforce the exclusion of the majority of citizens through the public private partnerships entered into between municipalities and improvement district projects funded by local businesses which effectively further criminalizes the poor through profiling and private security surveillance and patrols. Thus the pass-book is no longer required as the marks of difference have been transformed into the body itself through dress, accent, language, class and cultural otherness which is deemed to have no place within these gentrified enclaves by both state and private security institutions. In its ongoing quest to turn more and larger parts of the city into these enclaves of ‘world class services’ that cater exclusively to the affluent and moneyed, the city is implementing and enforcing discriminatory by-laws that inhibit the rights of the poor, the homeless and informal sectors.
The stickers will be pasted in various locations across the country where residents are still being evicted, victimized, discriminated against or being denied access to services and amenities based on our socio-economic status.
THE battle between the City of Cape Town and 26 Wynberg families continues after the City applied for leave to appeal a Western Cape High Court judgment which effectively halted it from continuing a proposed plan for a MyCiTi bus route through the Wynberg area which would have cut through the residential area in South Road, leaving 26 families homeless. The ruling followed the South Road Families Association’s (SRFA) urgent court application on April 29 to stop the City from enforcing termination of lease agreement notices given to the 26 families, halt the demolition of properties they occupied, and to engage them in meaningful public participation over the proposed MyCiTi bus route. SRFA spokesperson Laurie Peregrino said: “In applying for leave to appeal the City once again shows the total disregard and contempt with which they view the will, interests and concerns of the public as well as lack of respect for the courts.” He said it was with “utter arrogance” that the City and Herron disputed the court’s findings in their normal “bullying strategy” to try to have the high court’s ruling overturned.
Rhodes University vice-chancellor Sizwe Mabizela has warned that spiralling university fees are leading to the privatisation and commercialisation of higher education – to the exclusion of poor students. He said the funding shortfall in higher education was forcing universities to rely more on fees for operational requirements, resulting in steep fee increases.“Using student fees to address the financial shortfall in higher education creates a significant financial burden for students who come from poor, rural and working class communities as this makes higher education unaffordable. This also leads to the ‘privatisation’ and ‘commercialisation’ of public higher education, which is meant to serve a good public purpose,” he said.Mabizela said for some universities, the percentage of state funding had declined to less than 50% of the university’s operating budget.Wits vice-chancellor Adam Habib added that the issue of student funding was the biggest headache facing universities at the moment. His counterpart at North-West University, Dan Kgwadi, also echoed the statement, saying universities and government needed to boost their efforts to accommodate needy students.“We have many students who are excluded for financial reasons. It is our responsibility to support bright students who are academically needy. The worst thing is to exclude students for financial reasons,” Kgwadi said.
In June 2015, rumours of pending evictions began circulating amongst residents of the De Waal Service Road Flats located in District 6 that was zoned as a white-only area in 1966 under the Group Areas Act and where over 60,000 residents were evicted. The City of Cape Town was recently embroiled in a controversy with this community when the City served evictions orders to more than 100 families – some of whom have been living there for more than 60 years, and who survived the apartheid era evictions. The community rallied and with the support of others opposed the eviction orders. The Provincial Government of the Western Cape response was to placate the residents in the form of a possibility of relocation to Pelican Park on the sandy wastes of the Cape Flats.
After the initial uproar, and resistance from the residents, the Minister of Human Settlements and Housing said: “I want to set the record straight. This is not an eviction. There is no intention by this department to put rich people there. We will relieve them from the burden of paying by giving them a free house.”
What Minister Madikizela did not explain was how the Province could ‘give’ houses to these evictees when there are tens-of-thousands of people who have been on housing waiting lists for decades with no immediate prospect of relief?
In August however, Beverley Schafer – a spokesperson for economic development and tourism – summed up the department’s intentions in an interview: “ I think very much its based on economics and often Human Settlements have to make the correct decision based on economics. The market prices and the rental income that should be demanded of those properties are not being met for provincial government and they would actually like to get a far greater return on rentals in that area.”
The City of Cape Town has placed boulders on the field adjacent to the Trafalgar Pool in Woodstock to prevent soccer games from taking place. The area is an open public space which is used by residents of Woodstock and Walmer Estate. The area is supposed to form part of a green belt, and has been used informally for many years by both adults and children from the community who are being punished and are at risk of injury at night said the chairman of the Walmer Estate Concerned Residents Forum. However the Mayoral Committee member for Community Safety and Special Projects claims that the rocks were introduced to prevent formal games of soccer from taking place and that clubs should instead pay to use one of the City’s formal sports fields. As usual residents were neither consulted nor informed of the decision and many believe that the area is being targeted by property developers who have also been responsible for recent evictions in the surrounding area.
Mediclinic International includes amongst its massive healthcare empire a chain of 52 multidisciplinary hospitals in Southern Africa and is just one of a spate of private hospitals with state of the art services and the latest technology at their disposal. However at an average cost of more than R1000 per day, most South Africans do not have comprehensive medical aid and cannot afford to make use of these facilities. The public health care system is for the most part underfunded and hospitals as well as clinics are often unable to accommodate the large amount of patients who queue from early morning without seeing a doctor or receiving any kind of treatment.
South Africa boasts a lucrative tourism industry that caters predominantly to the foreign market with local travel marketing directed at a small percentage of locals who can afford to travel for leisure. In the City of Cape Town with its pristine beaches and world renowned attractions, the vast majority of citizens will never experience the awe of taking a trip in the cable car or visiting Cape Point, let alone the numerous other world renowned must-see sites throughout the country. Many of South Africa’s smaller hotels as well as backpackers, bed & breakfasts and guesthouses are in fact flouting labour laws by treating cleaning staff and gardeners as casual labour without any benefits or job security. Locals from impoverished communities that surround popular towns and cities often only get to interact as menial workers in this lucrative industry and will never be able to afford a vacation in their lifetime.
Along the West Coast in the Saint Helena Bay area there are five separate housing developments with less than a 10% occupancy. These walled and gated estates all have tarred roads and electricity that was laid-on at a cost that runs into millions of Rand by government. In a country where there are still millions of citizens without homes or access to basic services, these upmarket developments represent the inadequacy of the South African Housing Policy and The Housing White Paper that adopts a market-centred approach which has had several unfortunate outcomes for low-income housing and has created a legal loophole for greedy property speculators and their lawyers.
Much of the South African coastline is littered with pristine, exclusive hamlets comprised of lavishly furnished homes that are uninhabited and boarded up for most of the year. Often these holiday homes have unprecedented views and are located in some of the most beautiful and previously unspoilt areas of the country. These properties are owned by affluent South Africans and foreigners who primarily use these homes for leisure and who can afford to maintain this type of lavish indulgence while the majority of South Africans live without dignity in situations of dire poverty and overcrowded conditions with limited services and no security. South Africa is faced with a severe housing crisis. Many citizens cannot afford land or homes with hundreds of thousands living in shacks and on the streets.
The Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock is jointly owned by Nick Ferguson, Jody Aufrichtig and Barry Harlen who also own Indigo Properties, Daddy Long Legs Art Hotel, Daddy Long Leg’s Self Catering Apartments, and Old Mac Daddy Luxury Park in Elgin. Indigo Properties have been present in Woodstock since 2007 when the City designated Woodstock as a priority Urban Development Zone with significant tax rebates for urban upgrades. Their latest acquisition is the former Woodstock Industrial Centre, now called the “Woodstock Exchange”. Historically the suburb of Woodstock in Cape Town was home to the poor and working class. Rents were generally low and the area’s close proximity to the city and the railway junction in Salt River ensured that generations of families were born and raised in a community that survived the Group Areas Act evictions. Ironically today it is many of the same families and smaller businesses who survived the apartheid era forced removals, who now face eviction due to rising property values and municipal rates increases that are the consequences of gentrification. The market effects of higher land value also prohibits the development of affordable housing and rental units which is integral to addressing urban inequality by making the inner city more accessible to low-income citizens. Developments like the Old Biscuit Mill and the Woodstock Exchange, contribute to the erasing and displacement of Woodstock’s poorer and old-established residents who are often unable to afford the escalating rates, leading to their eviction and removal to Temporary Relocation Areas like Blikkiesdorp. This in turn resulted in wide scale evictions which were sanctioned by the City of Cape Town which in so doing condoned the continuing marginalization and exclusion of the poor and working class. Indigo Properties ‘Proudly supports the Cape Town World Design Capital’ and the City’s developmental plans to make progress impossible together.
Kalk Bay is the oldest traditional fishing harbour in South Africa that is still functioning and was the only community in South Africa to successfully resist the Separate Group Areas Act in the 60’s. Even though some of these traditional line fisherman are fourth and fifth generation locals, their livelihoods are under threat as a result of the contested allocation of fishing licenses and the failure by provincial and national government to protect their interests. The latest conflict between the locals from the Fishermen’s Residences and the Brass Bell Restaurant began in 2012 when the restaurant extended its premises across the beach area after being approached by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) to lease the area. The Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning stated that the extensions were not compliant with environmental legislation and yet the City of Cape Town, PRASA and the Brass Bell have already signed a Memorandum of Agreement without conducting a social impact study or initiating any consultation with the community. Far from being an isolated incident, this is the norm where wealthy property developers and owners along much of the country’s coast, restrict access to public spaces.
Special drinking fountains have been installed by the City of Cape Town along the Sea Point promenade for dogs and their owners who use the beachfront promenade primarily for exercise and play.
In other parts of the city, lower-income households often cannot afford to pay for water and services are disconnected or reduced to a trickle while taps are being removed from public parks to prevent homeless people from using them. In rural areas and informal settlements communal taps are still being used and water points are generally not close to homes which is a source of vulnerability for women and children who are often tasked with its collection.
Access to clean water is a basic human right and limited access to this resource results in unsafe and insanitary living conditions which is further exacerbated by the indignity of not being able to bathe regularly.
The amount of water golf courses use varies greatly depending on the region, but on average they use about 10 800 000 litres of water per year (according to the Golf Course Superintendents Association, US golf courses use, on average, 414 500 000 litres a year). In essence each golf course uses enough water to provide at least 1200 people with their basic water needs for a year. South Africa is a dry country and many people still do not have access to running water.
Can we afford to waste water on playgrounds for the rich?
The design of most healthcare systems favoured the rich and punished the poor, which threatened sub-Saharan Africa’s ability to achieve the United Nations’ health-related Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
Unless there is good quality in public healthcare, and unless the costs are brought down in private health care, this whole concept of universal health care will never find leverage in our country.
If I were asked to answer the following question: What is slavery? and I should answer in one word, It is murder!, my meaning would be understood at once. No extended argument would be required. Why, then, to this other question: What is property? may I not likewise answer, It is robbery!, without the certainty of being misunderstood; the second proposition being no other than a transformation of the first?
In the South African context where title deeds were introduced by the conquering colonizer and the nature of tenure was perverted based on foreign decree, this statement contains more truth than most are willing to admit. As such, Real Estate Agents are pretty much like fences who turn a profit from the sale of illicit goods and as such, are all culpable after the fact.
Early in 2013 an informal community sheltering under the unfinished freeway in Cape Town were evicted to make way for a parking lot to house the buses for the City’s new Intergrated Rapid Transport (IRT) project, the MyCiti. The City of Cape Town next cemented in tightly placed vertical sharp stones, each around 30cm high, in the area outside of the parking lot with the intention to prevent homeless people from sleeping there.
According to Marc Truss, Chief Executive of the Green Point City Improvement District (CID), “The concept of the vertical planted rocks is unique in a way to curb the ongoing saga of having homeless individuals not utilise the flat areas around the depot to sleep upon or build shelters thereon,”
Urban development analyst and Cape Times columnist Rory Williams said, “Using rocks embedded in concrete is a creative way to stop people from using a space without putting up fences, but a really meaningful innovation would be to find a way to attract the homeless to safer locations.”
The City of Cape Town has admitted to building two of these preventative rock fields thus far.
The lagoon has been declared a Marine Protected Area (MPA), which has its aim to restrict certain activities to protect the marine life in the lagoon, and it has been divided into three Zones, namely Zone A, B and C.
Zone C is a complete no take zone, which means that no-one is allowed to catch fish in Zone C, it is also an area which is reserved for breeding and replenishment of the fish stock.
The traditional net-fishers have been restricted to only catch fish in Zone A, but, a few white fishers, due to an agreement they signed with the Parks Board during the last years of apartheid, are allowed to fish in Zone B.
Traditional fishers of Langebaan would prefer that they be allowed to fish in Zone B, since there is a larger stock of harders, and because they do not target fish that is in need of protection that is found in Zone B, as the recreational fishers does.
Traditional fishers have waged a protracted struggle to have their rights to fish in Zone B restored, because at the moment they must compete with recreational fishers, kite flyers, scuba divers and the general holiday maker in Zone A.
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The Company’s garden was established in 1652 by Dutch Settlers who invaded land previously occupied by indigenous tribes. Today the Company’s Garden is a South African National Heritage Site, and as a public space is used as a place of leisure and relaxation.
Recently a Councillor for the City has proposed that ‘problematic’ benches in the Company’s Garden and Government Avenue should be replaced. He stated that some of the benches did not have a bar in the middle and therefore encouraged people, mostly vagrants, to lie down and sleep, rather than sit. To discourage this, new benches that prohibit reclining should be installed. It is common knowledge that homeless people often use the benches as a spot to gain some respite from the hardships of their lives.
The councillor has suggested that the City of Cape Town commission artists to design and install new ‘functional art” benches that would make it unsuitable for reclining or sleeping.
This prescriptive proposal on how people use public spaces is intended to create a more sterile and less diverse place for the privileged.
Throughout the country, large tracts of land are being converted to Private Nature Reserves which caters for the foreign tourist market and affluent South Africans, and therefore deemed to be more profitable than farming. In many instances communities and families who have been on the land for generations and living under the yoke of insecure tenure, are displaced and no longer have access to traditional livelihoods and spaces.
MetroRail continues to entrench segregation on its trains by maintaining two classes of carriages. The ‘Metro Plus’ and the ‘Metro’ . In the past these were respectively called ‘First Class’, and ‘Third Class’ .
During peak times, commuters from the overcrowded ‘Metro’ carriages often spill over into the ‘Metro plus” carriages and incur fines if caught by Metrorail’s security. Poorer commuters also put their lives at risk by having to stand in the open carriage doorways of the overcrowded Metro carriages.
The Cape Town Partnership which is funded by private companies, employs 200 hundred foot patrols that are deployed under the auspices of the Central City Improvement District (CCID). The CCID is run by a private security company, Iliso Security Services. Their function, according to their code of conduct, is: “to combat crime in the City, including the warning of offenders, the arrest of perpetrators, the addressing of social crimes etc.”
The code mentions street kids and homeless people who, even when they haven’t committed a crime can be warned for loitering or causing a disturbance in the area. What the CCID code of conduct doesn’t mention is that those 200 security officers actually have no legal authority to issue such warnings.
The city of Cape Town is still largely structured along apartheid era spatial divisions with poor black people still confined to Townships and ghettoes. The City of Cape Town in its policies and implementation seems determined to maintain and intensify these spatial divisions.
In its rollout of its MYCITI Bus Rapid Transport system (BRT) routes it has prioritized affluent and largely white areas where people have access to both private and public transport and easier access to their places of work and leisure.
One of the stated aims of MYCITI is to support and develop tourism and the image of Cape Town as a great place to live, invest in and visit, and even though the City claims to want to create greater access to all of its residents to the city for work, study and leisure, its phased introduction contradicts this
Prior to the FIFA World Cup In South Africa in 2010, informal traders were evicted from the Cape Town Railway Station using a new by-law introduced by the City of Cape Town. The station was renovated and its adjacent outdoor space once used by the traders was ‘cleaned up’, landscaped, with just a single bench installed. This was designed and produced by an artist commissioned by the city.
The traders fought the eviction, marched to parliament but lost their fight against the eviction.
Today no trading is allowed in this ‘sanitized’ space and the space is bereft of informal traders and policed by security companies.
The private security industry in South Africa is the largest in the world with nearly 9,000 registered companies and 400,000 registered active private security guards; more than the South African police and army combined: and this to protect the property of the few who can afford it…
Large tracts of coastal land have been bought up by private developers who have built expensive holiday homes for the wealthy. Poor communities are once again slowly being evicted…
The vast majority of South Africans have to use some sort of transport to travel to and from work. Due to the Apartheid era spatial planning that is being maintained by neo-colonial urban development policies, workers often travel in excess of two hours per day to be at work on time at an average cost of almost 20% of income.