Evictions on hold

2017-09-26 06:01

Steurhof residents who were on the verge of being evicted from council houses have a reason to smile as evictions have been put on hold for now.

The City of Cape Town has decided to conduct their own investigation, and evictions are on hold pending the finalisation of the ­investigation.

Following two cases that were opened by two families that were about to be evicted, with the help of a local businesswoman, Alexis Serra (“Neighbourly help”, People’s Post, 5 September) the City has to investigate the allegations. Cases of misrepresentation of facts were opened against City officials. Serra believes that through what she has gathered, had the City officials been honest, there would not have been evictions in Steurhof.

Zara Nicholson, spokesperson for mayor Patricia de Lille, says the City is conducting its own investigations to ascertain whether City officials have complied with the City’s policies and procedures, or whether there has in fact been a misrepresentation of the facts.

“In the meantime, the mayor has put a hold on the evictions, pending the finalisation of the investigation,” says Nicholson.

Though the evictions have been put on hold, Serra says this does not mean everything is over, and those residents that are facing eviction must see this as an opportunity to get their documentation in order and acquire legal ­assistance.

In the four months that she has been helping the families who are facing eviction, Serra says the process has given her tremendous insight into what has really gone on as far back as 1996.

“Putting everything together, one doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to read between the lines and realise that a lot of housing unfairness, favouritism and influence went on behind the scenes. One can see that the City lost control, and apart from housing maladministration, all housing policies and procedures were flouted, as well as the Land Claims Act and court orders, and there is a lot of misinformation. As a result of this, perhaps that’s why today some families own between six and 10 houses in Steurhof. Quite a few residents were always afraid to speak openly about this unfairness, out of fear of reprisals from those who behave like thugs in the community. Some residents also feared that if they spoke out, they may not gain ownership of their houses because of those who have an influence over housing practitioners,” she says.

Serra adds that it has become more apparent that those who once turned a blind eye to all the housing unfairness in Steurhof don’t like what’s currently happening in the community.

“It’s unfair that residents who didn’t break into their homes now have to face eviction, whilst those that broke into houses received deeds of transfer to the homes. “Letters and documents were dropped in my letter box, revealing and uncovering who are the key role players in this ‘alleged housing favouritism and influence’,” she says.

All the documentation she has gathered whilst helping these families has been forwarded to the City for investigation, Serra says. Regardless of the City of Cape Town’s investigation, the attorney representing the three families that Serra continues to help is willing to take the matter to the High Court, if need be. “Housing maladministration, and corruption is endemic nationwide. Corruption has become a way of life and it seems to be entrenched in our society.

“It’s not okay to turn a blind eye to wrong, because you never know when it may affect you. Many residents in Steurhof have limited knowledge, information, resources, skills and finances to assist themselves when it comes to housing matters,” she says.

There is no freedom and fairness when one has limited knowledge, “because one can easily be misguided, misled, controlled and manipulated by those with ulterior motives and intentions”, Serra says. “I am aware that a great deal of this has been going on for years in Steurhof, and if you get too close to the truth or dare speak out some residents behave like thugs and then they have the cheek to see themselves as community leaders.

“However, this is not about them, it’s about justice and redressing housing unfairness,” says Serra.

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