WATCH: Mass evictions at Cape Town 'crime den' which once housed home affairs offices

2017-09-05 12:26
Red Ants carrying out an eviction at Boston Centre in Bellville. (Jenni Evans/News24)

Red Ants carrying out an eviction at Boston Centre in Bellville. (Jenni Evans/News24)

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Cape Town – Scores of people have been evicted from a building which once housed Home Affairs offices in Bellville, a business hub in Cape Town’s northern suburbs, on Tuesday.

The 10-storey building with 50 flats in it, known as Boston Centre, is situated in Voortrekker Road.

It was built in the early 1970s and was once a hotel, but degenerated so much over the years that an outside mezzanine level was simply turned into a dump site.

At one stage, around 2005, the Department of Home Affairs had offices in the building which, according to a report on it, now poses a safety risk to occupants as it could be a fire hazard.

It is also said to have become a haven for uninvited guests, drug dealers and other criminals.

An order was obtained from the Cape Town High Court for the eviction.

'I was in the army'

In an operation headed by the Cape Town branch of the Red Ants on Tuesday, about 120 of the company’s eviction staff members carried sagging mattresses and broken furniture over piles of rubble in the passages with a mobile lamp lighting their way.

Others worked in rooms in which flies hovered, stuffing clothing into bags to be carried downstairs.

Items like empty beer bottles, a hookah pipe and forgotten toiletries would be cleared later.



For one man who was evicted, the cold weather called for a nip of sherry, and he sat on his dining room chair on the pavement, broke the seal and took a deep drink.

Women wandered around, shouting profanities referencing the mothers of the around 170 law enforcement authorities circling the building and standing guard inside.

 


A man came out of the building carrying only two enlarged photographs of himself in military uniform.

"I was in the army in Cameroon," he said, as he held the pictures carefully, and turned away.

Security 'threatened, robbed, assaulted'

One woman, dragging her belongings under the awning of a nearby shop, shouted: "Help my met die kooi! (Help me with the bed!)"


(Jenni Evans/News24)

She said they had had no warning and the eviction crew and police simply started banging on doors and swearing at them.

But an official on the scene said the around 70 residents had been informed of the action prior to Tuesday.

The body corporate of the building was an applicant in the matter which involved obtaining a court-ordered eviction.


(Jenni Evans/News24)

According to a document on the state of the building, dated January 2017, some residents had broken holes through the walls to set up illegal power connections.

"The squatters had made a hole from where [a] shop was to have access to the church and the hairdresser also made use of this to get power from the church," it said.

It also said security had on several occasions caught people vandalising the building and that security had been "threatened, robbed and assaulted".

The evictions continue.


(Jenni Evans/News24)


(Jenni Evans/News24)

Read more on:    cape town  |  evictions  |  housing

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