IDENTIFYING OUR COMMUNITIES IN NEED
A COMMUNITY PROFILE
Located in the Cape Flats – the sandy low-lying planes situated to the southeast of Cape
Town city centre, ( about 15 km or 8 miles from Cape Town) and reserved for coloured and Black African populations during apartheid.
Bonteheuwel is bounded to the west by Langa which lies just across Vanguard Drive, the N2
Highway on the southern limits and Valhala Drive to the east. Bonteheuwel was created in the 1960s in
response to the introduction of the Group Areas Act. The area was conceived as a letting scheme owned by the then Cape Town City. It comprised four areas, namely Bonteheuwel (proper), Bluegum, Netreg and Kalksteenfontein. The construction of housing in Bonteheuwel (proper) started in 1961 and was completed in 1964.
In the 2001 national census, Bonteheuwel had a population of 55 707, of whom 95% were
classified as coloured and 4% as Black African, indicating entrenchment of Group Areas Act settlement
patterns. Linguistically, Afrikaans is the dominant language at 76%, while English is spoken as a home
language by a further 22%. The housing profile of Bonteheuwel is dominated by brick houses on separate stands in which 72% of the population lives, followed by semi-detached houses in which a further 11% of population lives, while backyard dwellings – both brick structures and informal dwellings – are home for a further 11% of the population (CCT website).
Scorecards and report cards are a useful method of measuring performance and reporting
and are a practical method of demanding accountability of service providers and government to the
communities that they serve. Government and municipal governments in particular, given their closeness to, and responsibility of providing basic services to their respective citizens, have a responsibility to report and communicate the progress towards meeting their goals and their responsibility for service delivery. Moreover, the IDP process also demands that municipal governments solicit citizen input in the development of their IDPs and budgets. It is essential therefore for governments to devise methods of measuring outcomes against desired levels service delivery.
The survey in Bonteheuwel, of which a total of 300 interviews were conducted, but only 288 completed, was designed to include a proportionally representative sample of the area.
A street Map view of Bonteheuwel
An aerial view of Bonteheuwel
A BRIEF HISTORY OF BONTEHEUWEL
" Bonteheuwel was the first coloured, state rental township, to house people being forcibly removed under the group areas act. People from the recently declared white areas such as Claremont and District 6 moved alongside people from the many coloured squatter communities that dotted the city at this time. The housing that greeted them when they arrived was simple, single storey matchbox housing with asbestos roofs, although the township was electrified and plumbed.
From these simple homes workers commuted into Cape Town to work as domestic workers in the homes of wealthy whites and in the city’s restaurants and hotels, as plumbers and construction workers in the city’s building sites, and as factory workers in the light industry of Epping Industrial Estate that bordered the township to the North.
With only three roads in and out of the township Bonteheuwel was built around a central shopping area and had three secondary schools, Arcadia High,Modderdam High and Bonteheuwel High. In 1980 it had a population of around45,000, of which nearly half was aged 18 or under, and an unemployment rate of around 6%.As the population expanded duplex houses were built in the 1970s in the backyards of existing homes, although overcrowding and poverty was still rife. Interestingly, unlike other coloured townships where large numbers of flats were built Bonteheuwel remained a low rise township of individual houses.
During the late 1980s Bonteheuwel experienced the upgrading of its facilities as the state sought to tackle political militancy through state spending. Roads were tarred and facilities upgraded. This gradual upgrading continued into the 1990s as amulti-purpose centre was built with money from the Reconstruction and Development Programme and moving into the 2000s a police station was built.
However, Bonteheuwel remains a poor community bursting at the seams. The backyards of many formal houses house people living in shacks made of corrugated iron and wood. Democratisation also brought with it an explosion of crime as, particularly in the late 1990s, gangsterism took a deep hold on the community and led to many deaths. Drug abuse and alcoholism are also commonplace and the coming of crystal meth to the Cape Flats was a particular concern whilst I was conducting my fieldwork."
A typical semi-detached house in Bonteheuwel
THE TYPICAL HOUSE IN BONTEHEUWEL
A typical two-bedroomed home in Bonteheuwel, a typical coloured township that was specifically built by the previous apartheid government, as a dumping ground for coloured families who were forcibly removed from District Six, an area in the heart of Cape Town.
The township was never designed with the intention to promote integrated living.
There are hardly any job opportunities and recreational facilities are few. This is a clear indication that the township was designed as a dormitory for cheap labour, as an overnight for working class families.
What role will Fuller Center for Housing, Western Cape, play in Bonteheuwel?
The Fuller Center for Housing Western Cape (FCHWC) will play a significant role in improving the existing homes in Bonteheuwel and many other townships by helping families to do improvements to their homes.
We will also bring relief to the backyard dwellers in Bonteheuwel, by replacing the wood and iron dwellings with brick structures, on the condition that the family staying in the home owns the land.
The average cost of a house in Bonteheuwel is R 350,000 (i.e. $ 35,000 US), which is way beyond what a back yard dweller can afford. The cost of land in Cape Town is exceptionally high, which causes working class families to become back yard dwellers in almost all townshops throughout South Africa.
FCHWC, therefore will play a leading role in doing home improvements throughout the townships in the Western Cape.
The disintegrating Townships in Cape Town, South Africa
An indigent family of 5 members are living in a single room wood & iron back yard dwelling (below), with no running water, toilet or electricity. There are hundreds of thousands of black and coloured families living like this throughout South Africa, notwithstanding our twenty years of democracy.
There is a desperate need for families to acquire a decent, modest two bedroom house. The ever increasing waiting list of the Cape Town City Council is 450,000 familes. Our new South African government has spent billions of rands to host the 2010 World Cup soccer. Much of the money went into the pockets of corrupt officials.
There were several church leaders who warned the new South African government that their priorities are wrong, but they proceeded to build 'white elephant' sport stadiums in most provinces. These multi billion rand stadiums are standing empty most of the time, while our people are languishing in poverty housing.
The final costs of the 'white elephant' Cape Town stadium was R 4,4 Billion which amount to $ 440 million USD. The funding was provided by both City Council & National government.
In addition to the final costs, the City of Cape Town also has to provide the maintenance costs of the 'white elephant', which is exceptionally high.
The Cape Town stadium is generating marginal income, which does not justify its operational costs. The jobs created for maintaining the stadium are also minimal.
It would have been possible for the City of Cape Town to build 12,940 homes if it invested the money in the provision of housing !!
This is precisely the reason why we have these colosal backlogs in housing in South Africa. If we leave it to government alone, we will never be able to wipe out the housing backlog, despite the countless unfulfilled promises made at the election campaigns.