Squatter camp threatens Bellville businesses

Businesses in the heart of Bellville say the City has failed to act against squatters on their doorstep who are hurting trade.

About 20 people have been living next to the Bellville Station Shopping Centre in Durban Road since about November last year, says centre manager Bradford Idas.

Their camp is under a nearby bridge.

“Our tenants are complaining about the people living here, because they chase away their customers. The smells and the amount of dirt that comes from the settlement has made life really difficult here for our tenants and the customers. We are situated right in the middle of the Bellville CBD, and you would think that the City of Cape Town would help with this, but all we are told is that the matter is being investigated yet nothing happens.”

Mr Idas added: “We understand that the lockdown has restricted the City in terms of what they can do and that they are short-staffed during this time, but we need some help with this matter. We are not saying the people must be chased away from there, but there needs to be a better solution for them, something more secure and long-term. They obviously need a place to stay, but it cannot be in front of the centre.”

Bradwyn Marthinus, a 40-year-old resident of the camp, said people had started living there because they had no other choice.

“Before, we could survive while living on the street by getting odd jobs, but now people do not want us around their properties because of the virus. Now things have just got worse, and nothing gets done for the people on the streets, so we need a place to stay.

“The City made something special for refugees,” he said referring to the Paint City refugee camp, “but nothing for us.”

Despite several requests, the City of Cape Town failed to comment.