Despite a mountain of challenges, the Hangberg Peace and Mediation Forum (PMF) that was formed as a result of court order, was finally able to sign an agreement with various stakeholders that would see housing as well as other basic services being delivered to residents in the Hout Bay community. The signing of the Hangberg Peace and Mediation Accord was a historic occasion, marking exactly a year that the community and law enforcement officers clashed violently when the City of Cape Town demolished wooden houses situated above the firebreak.
To avoid a lengthy court battle, the Western Cape High Court ordered that mediation take place, and should an agreement be reached the court case would collapse. “The agreement essentially resolves the immediate crisis. It removes the threat of the court taking action to have people evicted from the mountain This is a peaceful process where people move from the mountain but back into the community,” said Brian Williams, the facilitator of the PMF.
“In the agreement you have plans that can be developed and designed for every single sphere of community life. The biggest challenge is certain individuals and elements in the community that seek to distort the facts and reality and have a different agenda to the rebuilding of the community. They have an agenda which is linked to the advancing of certain political ambitions of individuals rather than looking at the broader interest of how to serve the needs and interest of the community,” said Williams.
This agreement will see those who live above the firebreak come down below the firebreak and then back into the Hangberg community below the sloot, said Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille. “In so doing, they will ensure their safety and the safety of their community, especially against fires and floods,” she said. Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, who acknowledged that she was originially seen as the “villain” in the saga, said the violent events that unfolded on 21 and 22 September 2010 would stay with her forever.
“Exactly a year ago is a day that will stay with me for the rest of my life and I think for the rest of everybody’s life. It was a day of tragedy and a day of conflict for the City and those associated with it. It was a tragedy in more ways than one because what was supposed to have been a model project and completed a long while ago became the focus of polarisation and ultimately violent conflict and injury.”
South African National Park (SANParks) representative, Paul Daphne reaffirmed its commitment to development in the community. “We have committed to a schedule of activities as our continued responsibility to ensure that the Hangberg community benefits significantly from our existing employment, social development and education programmes.”
This article originally appeared here.