Dunoon rises from farmland

Elizabeth Arendse and Regina Maile are long-time Dunoon residents.

Twenty-five years ago, Regina Maile ended up on a piece of Milnerton farmland with a handful of houses on it – she was one of the first residents of the township that would become Dunoon.

Ms Maile had worked on a farm in Table View before ending up in Dunoon with her family.

These days she runs a second-hand goods business from her home and also has people fixing appliances on the property.

“I used some of the money I had made while working on the farm and started extending the house I lived in. I then accommodated tenants who had also moved from different areas to come live here.”

She can’t remember exactly when she ended up in Dunoon, but she produces a faded receipt for the R15 monthly rent instalments she used to pay for her family’s lodgings in Marconi Beam.

The receipt, for the first half of 1992 and the second half of 1993, is signed and stamped as “paid” up until December of 1992, but no payment is reflected for 1993.

Ms Maile said the time leading up to her family leaving Marconi Beam had been very hard.

“It was really tough, especially on my children. I would often get arrested, and all I could think about was whether my children were okay.

“But I believe that God is alive, and He got me through all of the tough times.”

Her daughter, Hughlacia Ousmanaou, said she had witnessed all the hardships her mother had endured, and she remembered living in Dunoon while still going to school in Table View.

“I used to live a double life. I would come from the white school and my friend’s mother used to drop me off in Killarney. There was no public transport coming this side, so we would hitch-hike on garbage trucks, and in the morning, we would walk,” said Ms Ousmanaou.

Another long-time Dunoon resident, Elizabeth Arendse, said many in the community were fed up because they saw a lot of development happening around them but very little seemed to benefit their increasingly congested neighbourhood.

“MyCiTi is here, taxis are here and development in terms of industry, and that has created jobs for people. The problem is that development is more around Dunoon than inside. The infrastructure is bad after all this time,” said Ms Arendse.

Ms Maile said she hoped to see more development in Dunoon because she was proud of how the area had grown from the farm she moved onto all those years ago.

The formal township of Dunoon was declared in terms of the Less Formal Settlements Act, which was interim fast-track legislation that allowed people, other than whites, to live in the formerly whites-only Milnerton area.

It was to provide an overflow for squatters who had settled on the Marconi Beam site (now Joe Slovo) and who could not be housed on the 1 000-odd plots there.

It was developed – with funds from the provincial government for housing – in the early 1990s on land the council had bought from Shell Annandale Farms.