End of the ‘circus’ for occupants

2019-08-13 06:00
Occupants of the land where the former South African National Circus School in Observatory used to be maintain the vegetable garden that they have planted.PHOTO: Nomzamo Yuku

Occupants of the land where the former South African National Circus School in Observatory used to be maintain the vegetable garden that they have planted.PHOTO: Nomzamo Yuku

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Uncertainty surrounds the issue of the illegal occupancy of the land where the former South African National Circus School in Observatory used to operate from.

The City of Cape Town has a case pending in court to evict these occupants who say they have nowhere else to go.

Zahid Badroodien, Mayco member for community services and health, says once this process has been finalised, the building will be scheduled for demolition.

City spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo explains that the City terminated the lease in June 2017.

“The lessee was in breach of the contract, making use of the property for commercial purposes by sub-letting the asset for accommodation purposes when the circus was no longer active,” claims Tyhalibongo.

Some of the occupants have stayed at the property for more than three years. In the beginning, some of the tenants rented the property from the owner of the circus school, Dimitri Slaverse, “not knowing he was not supposed to rent it out”.

The tenants allegedly paid between R1 500 to R2 500 per room, whereas Slaverse allegedly paid a rental fee of R150 per annum according to the City. This continued until the City issued a warning letter about evictions last year.

Activities at the circus became less frequent until it finally moved out of the premises in May this year.

However, Slaverse left the remaining parts of the tent he used during the shows.

Since then, the occupants have remained at the property, saying they have nowhere to go and cannot afford the cost of rental properties in Observatory.

Currently, more than 20 occupants live in the clubhouse and caravan. One family has also built a shack outside the clubhouse.

Kami Gorden (49), an occupant, says, the house is overcrowded and allows no privacy for her and her autistic daughter.

“I am aware of the case being in court and it worries me as I do not know where I will stay with my daughter. I am struggling to find a job, but if I can get something and earn enough to sustain the two of us, I would be happy to find a place to stay. This is no way to live,” she says.

Some of the occupants have even started planting vegetable gardens, saying they are trying to make life better. They say they are not criminals, but it is their circumstances which led them to find what they thought was an affordable rental property.

Gregory Booth, one of the occupants, says they would be happy to leave if they could find alternative accommodation nearby as living in Observatory is convenient. 

He says they are trying to make ends meet and cannot afford daily travelling costs to look for casual jobs.

He hopes the City will help them find suitable accommodation when the time comes. 

The issue around this land has caused conflicts in the community. Residents are not sure what the future holds. Some want the space to be used for recreational purposes while others feel it should be left for housing for the less fortunate. 

The condition of the land, as well as the clubhouse, is deteriorating. At present, there is no maintenance or security system in place.

Slaverse, who at first agreed to reply to questions sent by People’s Post, later said he had left the matter to the Trust of the circus to deal with. No response had been received by the time of going to print.

NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.