DRAMA is unfolding in the ongoing battle between Lansdowne business owners, residents of an informal settlement, and the City of Cape Town.
The city moved 109 residents to open land it owns in Flamingo Crescent in Lansdowne on 4 October 2005.
At the time, it was reported to be a temporary measure. Three years later, business owners and residents alike are still opposing the settlement.
The Lansdowne Industrial Business and Retail Association (Libra) took on the city last year. Members say they feel the city acted against the interests of residents by relocating the residents to Lansdowne. They have been lobbying to have these people moved to another location and have applied to the High Court for an eviction order, with the city, the city manager and the residents as the respondents in the case.
"We tried negotiating with the city on several occasions, but we had no positive response. We had to go the legal route," says Libra chairperson Khalil Amod.
On Friday, a sheriff of the Wynberg Magistrate's Court served a court order on the residents. The order, by agreement between Libra, the city and the city manager, stated that the matter has been postponed for a hearing in the Cape High Court at a date not yet specified.
If the city wants to file any answering papers, it must do so before 15 September. Libra can then file a reply before 15 October.
Amod says the location of the informal settlement has impacted negatively on several businesses in the area. He says clients are scared to enter that part of Lansdowne because of the proximity of the squatters.
Amod and many others say the settlement is a cesspit of unhygienic conditions, and that the road is filthy after the weekend.
They have complained that the residents are responsible for a considerable amount of crime in the area. Even those who were squatting in Flamingo Crescent before the city's relocation have pointed fingers at the newcomers.
Berenice Petersen and about ten other families have lived at the site for more than eight years. "We are not happy about the break-ins at the businesses around here. It all started when the new people came here," she claims.
She says she won't mind if her new neighbours are forced to move out.
John Adams is also part of the original group. "These people are making it very difficult for us who are not involved in crime," he says.
Christopher Jackson agrees with his neighbours: "I'm trying my best to make a life here for my children. The criminals are making trouble for us. We came here for better lives, but there's nothing we can do about the crime," he says.
Councillor Dan Plato, the city's mayoral committee member for housing, and Pat Hill, Lansdowne ward councillor, both declined to comment.