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published by the

Hout Bay Residents and Ratepayers Association (HBRRA)


HBRRA is a member of the Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance (GCTCA)

and associated with the Hout Bay & Llandadno Heritage Trust


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Fires in Imizamo Yethu

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Police Emergencies: 10111
Hout Bay Police: 021 791 8660
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On this page:   Latest Hout&About   Republic Radio   RAHB becomes HBRRA!   Slope development in IY   Land Use Complaint Form

Hout and About Newsletter

Clouds over Karbonkelberg

Clouds over Karbonkelberg

Hout and About Newsletter – August 2014 (613 kb PDF)

Topics covered…

  • Len's Lines – Message from Chairman of HBRRA
  • Margaret O’Connor’s treatment by Entilini’s staff on Chappies
  • Correspondence about repairs to the banks of the Hout Bay river
  • Message from NODE coordinator on Western Leopard Toad Conservation
  • What does the HBRRA do?
  • HBRRA Collection Tins and Donation Information
  • HBRRA Membership Form

Previous editions of the Hout and About Newsletter

If you would like to receive the monthly Hout & About via e-mail then please send an e-mail to hbrra@houtbay.org.za


On this page:   Latest Hout&About   Republic Radio   RAHB becomes HBRRA!   Slope development in IY   Land Use Complaint Form

Republic Radio: Hout Bay's own radio station!

Republic Radio was set up just over a year ago and has a small studio in the Mainstream Centre, next to the Amphitheatre. We currently broadcast on the internet only via our web site and a mobile app called TuneIn.

Given the size the town has grown to in recent years, we believe that it’s time to have a fully operational FM station of our own that you can tune into on the normal dial.

We are therefore preparing to make an application to ICASA (the government communications authority) for Republic Radio to obtain an FM licence.

The station will air music, chat and information, that hopefully covers our diverse population. It will also become a medium for small businesses to engage and cost-effectively advertise to the population of Hout Bay.

Part of the application process requires us to include a petition. We are aiming to get 1,000 signatures (we are over a quarter of the way there to date) and you can help us by clicking through to our online petition site and signing up. It takes less than a minute – honest! Please click on this link Republic Radio Petition

Thanks for your time – much appreciated.

Tom Purcell
Email: tom@republicradio.co.za Website: republicradio.co.za

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RAHB becomes HBRRA!

It was decided at the 2012 AGM, held on 14 March, to change the Residents Association of Hout Bay's name to Hout Bay Residents & Ratepayers Association. The reason being that the vast majority of our members are ratepayers but there are also some who are residents who rent property in Hout Bay. Many City officials also refer to our organisation as the Ratepayers Association.

The old name, or acronym, will still appear in places on this website but will be changed in the coarse of the next few months.

On this page:   Latest Hout&About   Republic Radio   RAHB becomes HBRRA!   Slope development in IY   Land Use Complaint Form

When taking the high ground can be a hazard

by Erik Shaug of Afrikom Strategic Communications (published in the Cape Times on Monday 5 October 2009)

The recent rainy season in the Cape led to the flooding of low-lying informal settlements. It seems that informal settlements, or any low-cost housing projects, should be built anywhere but in low-lying areas. Areas which are level, or nearly level, and slightly elevated, are preferable.

Building them on a sloping site can cause even more serious difficulties. After all, if you build houses up on stilts, as they do in many places in the East, seasonal flooding does not cause too much of a problem in low-lying areas.

The Residents' Association of Hout Bay thinks that the problems of Imizamo Yetu in Hout Bay - built on a slope - are so serious that it is planning to bring court action because no proper sewerage system is planned for the development. The consequence is an extreme health hazard to residents as well as the surrounding community.

In the Cape Peninsula, much of the most expensive housing is built on sloping sites, because of the splendid views you get from them. Only the rich can afford such sites, not only because they are sought after by other rich people, but because the cost of building is significantly higher.

If you want to build a house on a sloping site you have to level the ground, which means expensive retaining walls or banks. Road access has to take the slope into account, which could mean zig-zagging the road so that it doesn't get too steep. This is expensive, as it uses up more space and, like the sites, involves retaining walls or banks.

Water supply might need a reservoir at a high point, with a pump to get the water up to it.

Sewers also have their difficulties on sloping sites: sewer pipes only operate successfully if they are at an acceptable angle, not too shallow and not too steep.

These technical problems significantly increase the cost of housing for the poor on sloping sites, which means that fewer poor people can get housing.

Every so often Imizamo Yethu (IY) finds itself in the news. The problem is ongoing slow-motion environmental disasters. And the primary physical cause behind them is the steeply sloping mountainside that IY is built upon.

The council's latest development scheme for the lower slopes of Imizamo Yethu includes 1 100 two- and three-storey flats. The geotechnical survey for the area revealed that there was a lot of unstable detritus to a depth of 3m, and a lot of clay - this is in addition to the problems of sloping ground.

This means that the foundations will have to be special: expensive piles would need to be driven, and structural ground beams constructed, as well as the retaining walls or banks for the necessary levelling.

Professional estimates of the cost of building these flats make for startling reading. Each flat would be only 40m2, and its construction would be very basic: cement blocks, vinyl floors, steel windows. The cost of each, taking into account the cost of site preparation, would be in the order of R250 000.

That's why only the rich can afford to build on sloping sites. One might argue that the poor should not be discriminated against, but there is a finite amount of money available for their housing.

Spending a quarter of a million rands on each dwelling for the poor on a sloping site means that the poor elsewhere will not get houses until much later.

This is contrary to the principle of "the greatest good for the greatest number".

At the highest point of Imizamo Yethu is a large cluster of about 1 100 shacks, known as Dontse Yakhe.

A few years ago it was discovered that some residents had been pouring their sewage into what they thought was a sewer; only it turned out to be a stormwater drain.

Others in Dontse Yakhe had forgone this procedure, and used a nearby tract of the mountainside as a huge public toilet. Whenever it rained heavily, this sewage poured down through peoples' properties - including other residents of IY - en route to the Disa River, where the stormwater drain also discharged.

The consequences were dire. In 2006 Dr Justin O'Riain, together with Stellenbosch University epidemiologist Dr Jo Barnes, tested a sample of water from the river . The safe maximum E coli count per 100cc is 300; anything over this figure is considered dangerous. The analysis revealed a staggering 9 billion. Subsequent samples taken each year since then show that very high levels persist.

Because Dontse Yakhe is so high up, there is not enough water pressure available to provide proper toilets, so ward councillor Marga Haywood arranged for 1 100 chemical cartridge toilets to be delivered to the residents free of charge.

Each household would receive a toilet plus two cartridges; every two weeks council workers would collect the full cartridge and replace it with a new one.

After about a month the council workers reported that only about 50 cartridges had been exchanged. It turned out that most of the residents of Dontse Yakhe are Ovambos, and they said that using toilets, chemical or waterborne, was against their culture and traditions, and that they would therefore continue to use the nearby mountainside for their ablutions.

In the latest proposal for the development of Imizamo Yethu, the council has come up with a scheme to deal with this. A detention pond would be constructed on the lower slopes, near the Hout Bay Main Road.

Detention ponds normally serve to retain the large amount of water which accumulates in an area whenever there's a lot of rain. It is then gradually discharged into the stormwater disposal system.

But this would be a detention pond with a difference: on the drawings it is identified as a "dual purpose detention pond (stormwater cleansing)".

What is meant by this is that it would also deal with the informal sewage problem of Imizamo Yethu. During the first heavy rains of winter, when summer's accumulation of human faeces washes down from the upper slopes, it would be collected in the pond as a "first flush", and discharged into the sewage system. Subsequent "flushes", bearing a reduced amount of faeces, would be discharged into the Disa River.

The idea of retention ponds being used for the disposal of human faeces is not only disquieting, it is against building regulations. The National Building Regulations (Part P3: Control of Objectionable Discharge) states:

  1. No person shall on any site cause or permit any sewage to enter -
    1. any street, stormwater drain, stormwater sewer or excavated or constructed watercourse; or
    2. subject to the Water Act, 1956 (Act No 54 of 1956), any river, stream or natural watercourse whether ordinarily dry or otherwise.
  2. No person shall cause or permit stormwater to enter any drainage installation on any site.

So the idea of collecting the "first flush" of faeces-laden stormwater of the rainy season in a detention pond and then discharging it into the sewer system would be a contravention of the regulations.

The subsequent collection of stormwater from the same source later in the rainy season and discharging it into the stormwater system (which discharges into the Disa River) would also be a contravention, as those who habitually use the open mountainside as a public toilet are not going to stop doing so after the first rains.

This might raise an interesting legal issue. The squatters who occupy Dontse Yakhe are doing so illegally. If the council were to go ahead with their plan to accommodate the traditions and culture of Ovambos in contravention of the National Building Regulations, it might be argued that they were giving tacit permission to stay - and continue using the slopes of the mountain as a mega public toilet.

The slope of the land in IY, combined with gravity, hydraulics and unacceptable human behaviour, is causing an environmental disaster. It should be stopped.

Which is what the Hout Bay Residents' Association intends to do. Chairman Len Swimmer states that the residents of Dontse Yakhe are there illegally, as the area they occupy is outside the demarcated area of Imizamo Yethu.

In a letter sent to the City of Cape Town and the Provincial Administration of the Western Cape the association says: "We contend that this land is not intended to be used as an informal settlement, and as owners of the unlawfully occupied land, we urgently request you to comply with the zoning scheme of the Land Use Planning Ordinance and remove the informal settlers off your land."

Swimmer attributes the lack of progress so far to "inaction by senior city officials and their consultants who appear to have been either hamstrung by lack of political will or unwillingness in themselves to act firmly".

Goodman Ngwangwa, chairman of the Sinethemba Civic Association in Imizamo Yethu, expresses the plight of those who live below Dontse Yakhe:

"The sewerage and drain water from Donste Yakhe pours down our streets and makes us sick. "We agreed that we would not have any new informal settlements, but Donste Yakhe is exactly like a new informal settlement. Nothing is being done about the difficulties caused by so many people living without services that affect us and people living in Hughenden and in Penzance."

He goes on to say: "We want and need progress in Imizamo Yethu badly. We do not want to hold up the development, but the behaviour of the officials - their neglect of us, the way they ignore our councillor and ward committee and the way they always find reasons for not doing something instead of using their skills for which they were employed to solve problems - makes us distrustful".

If the council and the province don't respond satisfactorily, the residents' association intends to take the matter to the high court, alleging contravention of the National Environment Management Act and of the Land Use Planning Ordinance.

On this page:   Latest Hout&About   Republic Radio   RAHB becomes HBRRA!   Slope development in IY   Land Use Complaint Form

Land Use Complaint Form

Here you can download a very useful form for residents to complain about illegal land use and nuisance caused. Please ensure your complaint is copied to Anita.Fabe@capetown.gov.za

Right click on the link of the desired version and select "Save Target as..." in the drop down menu.

MS Word version which can be completed elctronically

PDF version which can be printed out and completed by hand

Send comments, suggestions and enquiries regarding this website to webmaster@houtbay.org.za