Fencing of Driftsands land sparks fury

The community of Driftsands, near Khayelitsha, is up in arms and is demanding answers from CapeNature, amid disagreements over borders separating their area from the conservation body’s land.

Residents are accusing CapeNature of victimising them by taking some of the land which they claim belongs to them. This, they say has further compromised their safety as it has affected any possible development for the area, which is opposite the N2 freeway, next to Site C and located on a piece of land owned by CapeNature.

It has no shopping centre and no recreational facilities – and no high school. Pupils and residents are forced to go to nearby Site C for shopping and schooling and have to cross a dangerous pedestrian bridge linking the two communities. Residents say this has put their lives at risk, with more and more people attacked by criminals on their way to and from Site C.

On Friday June 24, residents met in a desperate bid to force CapeNature to halt the fencing off of the land, to discuss options regarding development of the area and to find ways to prevent unnecessary deaths.

Jongile Gonya, chairperson of the Driftsands Development Forum (DDF), accused CapeNature of using them to achieve and fulfil its own interests.

He said various meetings had been held between the conversation body and residents to iron out differences, but these had yielded no results.

He said they had also met with officials from the City and the province to discuss their concerns but these had achieved little.

“They started with fencing their land, but our main concern is that they are taking some of the land that belongs to us,” he said. “This is not helping the situation here. It means we cannot have any more development. Our people will continue to suffer.”

Mr Gonya said the community wanted to have a small shopping centre in the area to curb unnecessary spending. He said a taxi to Site C cost R8, while walking takes less than 20 minutes. However, the biggest challenge was crossing the bridge. He said people have been killed and robbed on the bridge and a taxi was the only safest option.

“What is the point of paying R8 on a taxi to go buy a fuse of R2?” he asked.

“These are the sort of challenges we have to deal with.”

He called on CapeNature to carefully consider its decision.

After initially promising to respond to a list of questions from Vukani, Justin Lawrence, spokesperson for the CapeNature, said they were not at liberty to comment on the fencing issue. He advised Vukani to seek clarity from the City, saying CapeNature was a “managing authority” but did not own the land.

After more than a week of investigation, the City also could not provide answers, instead promising to respond in our next edition, saying it was looking into the “particulars” of the questions.