Scene 6: Red Hill Settlement Tour Highlights Opportunities


We were brought to a settlement that our liaison Anneline works in, as part of our tour of settlements in various conditions and situations. Red Hill is one that she considers a good role model for settlement life, which she wanted us to see before beginning improvements in 7de Laan.

Cast of Characters

WPI Project Team
City Employees: Reggie O’Brien, Esralita Plaaitjies, Anneline Plaaitjies
Red Hill Residents: Daisy


The Red Hill informal settlement, section D, which sits against a hillside on the Cape Peninsula, on fertile rancher’s land leased by the government.


Red hill

Our first view of the settlement

The first thing that struck us as we drove into Red Hill was the space itself – up against a hillside and overlooking miles of rolling fields, it was a stark contrast to the dunes of 7de Laan. The shacks themselves were also very different, laid out sparsely with most including fenced-in yards and gardens. It was very heartening to see how this organization gave people the opportunity to make much more out of their living spaces, something that we hope to see happen in 7de Laan.

After surveying the settlement for some time we spoke to Daisy, a 61-year-old woman who had lived in the settlement for nearly two decades. She showed us the corn and pumpkins that she was growing with her husband, enough that they were planning to begin selling it. Her entrepreneurial spirit, and the way that she had slowly built so much from a basic shack, impressed us. She was very proud of what she had done, and it seemed to us that this pride and motivation was the critical element that allowed her to build so much.

red hill garden

One of the many community gardens we saw

Daisy was very invested in her plot of land, even saying that she would likely choose to stay even if offered formal housing. This was an extension of something that we had heard in 7de Laan and Plot 9 – people are naturally reluctant to leave their current situations, even if the alternative may be better. Her life was certainly not perfect in Red Hill, with inconsistent electricity and occasional flooding, but she seemed to be relatively happy there. It is difficult to give up what you already have, and as we work in Strandfontein this reluctance will be an important factor for relocation or re-blocking. In Daisy’s case it was difficult to tell if she was truly content where she was, or just unwilling to take the risk of moving somewhere new.

After speaking to Daisy, we learned from Anneline that the entire settlement was to be relocated to formal housing within two years. While in most settlements that would be good news, in this case it was somewhat sad to know that people like Daisy could not chose to stay in the homes into which they had invested so much. Impermanence is a common trend in these settlements, but it was more difficult to see it in a place where people had invested so much more than usual.


Visiting Red Hill gave us the chance to see how a settlement with the right physical space and the right attitude could have much better living conditions. Where the municipality did not work to address the settlement’s problems, the residents took it into their own hands. It became clear to us that we need to not only work to improve the 7de Laan settlement, but also foster a mindset for residents to take initiative in improving their living conditions regardless of outside support.