Hout Bay / Imizamo Yethu

Hout Bay is a picturesque valley about 15km south of Cape Town, situated between several mountains. There is a protected harbor at one end of the valley, which is one of the busiest fishing harbors in the Western Cape, along with several wealthy housing estates, hotels, and small farms.

Nestled between two of these affluent housing estates is the suburb of Imizamo Yethu. Imizamo Yethu (IY) is comprised of both a designated housing area and an “informal settlement” area, which is largely comprised of small shack dwellings which stretch up the steep slopes of the mountain behind it.

The shacks in this informal settlement reach right to the very edge of the demarcated area, in a densely packed jumble of tin roofs. In fact, even though the total area of IY is much smaller than the whole Hout Bay valley, the two have roughly the same population, 15538 vs. 17329. (City of Cape Town Census 2011)

Although there are services that exist in IY, including schools and a police station, statistics for service delivery are hard to find. However, the striking visual dissimilarities between the richer estate to the north, Tierboskloof, and IY are immediately apparent when viewed from the air. The line of trees which divides the two hides what I can only assume is a heavily fortified fence. In some cases, the houses (some with swimming pools) are just a stone’s throw from the shacks.

The most striking thing to me is the number of trees in Tierboskloof, versus the almost treeless IY. On the day I flew overhead, it was scorchingly hot, almost reaching 30 degrees. I imagined that the temperatures underneath the tin roofs must have been stifling.

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