Family’s house battle

2018-10-09 06:00
Gamiedallah Waggie from Sherwood Walk, Hanover Park. PHOTOS: AISHAH CASSIEM

Gamiedallah Waggie from Sherwood Walk, Hanover Park. PHOTOS: AISHAH CASSIEM

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A 41-year-old man is urging the City of Cape Town to return his family’s home after the City emptied and locked up the premises three years ago.

Gamiedallah Waggie from Sherwood Walk explains the City shut down the premises during his time in jail, saying the house was abandoned and being used for illegal activities­.

“When I stepped out of jail last year, I discovered that my family was scattered all over the community because of an eviction that occurred while I was away,” he says.

Waggie explains the shutdown of the property came after a random check-up done by Law Enforcement which found unknown individuals in the house.

“My ill father who does not talk much, was not in the house when Law Enforcement arrived and could not defend himself when he returned (to the house) at the time of the eviction.

“The individuals who were found in the house at the time are believed to have been friends of my sister, who is on drugs.

“They could not explain to the police why they were in the house at the time, when none of the house owners were present,” Waggie says.

The house was immediately shut down after the eviction and furniture and other belongings were left on the street.

According to Waggie, the home belongs to his late mother, and his 69-year-old father Riedwaan Higgins who currently suffers from asthma and high blood pressure.

“I am sad to know that my father is roaming the streets during the day, just to not burden people he currently lives with. He is supposed to be relaxing inside his family home at this age.”

Waggie has made it his duty to visit the local rental office since his release, but has been sent back and forth without any progress.

He says the family is still receiving electricity and water bills from the City.

“Why can’t we move back into our house, but we are expected to pay for it? There has never been an eviction order against our family. Why was my family removed without any proof of eviction papers?

“You can’t put residents out on the street without any proof. There’s no case number for an eviction to prove this, nothing at the City offices and nothing at the court.

“Law Enforcement was also shocked to discover there were no eviction papers, but still removed us upon an attempt to move back into the house earlier this year.”

In a written affidavit, he explains he wants the City to know that he is no longer involved in crime.

“The community signed a petition and several affidavits, to ask the City to place us back into our home. We are also getting assistance from a lawyer in this regard. I think the issue lies within the rental office, because certain officials keep telling me that I need to prove to them that I am a changed man before I can move back into the house.

“They (officials) are also telling me now that we need to make application to see if we qualify for the house again. Why must we go through that procedure again when it is our home? I want to know what is going on in the rental office that officials think it is okay to split up a family like this.”

Mayco member for assets and facilities management, Stuart Diamond, says feedback on the current situation was given to the family on numerous occasions.

He says the family’s assumption is wrong and that they were not illegally evicted.

“The deceased owner’s daughter was the sole occupant at the time, when illegal activity reports were received.

“This was confirmed with the police when she was arrested for possession of drugs.”

The City acted in terms of policy and secured and barricaded the dwelling, which is in Waggie’s mother’s name.

“None of the original family members were living in the dwelling at the time when reports were received that the property was being used for antisocial behaviour. A visit by the City’s housing officials and Law Enforcement was conducted on Thursday 7 April 2016, and the owner’s grandchild and her friends were found on the premises. Law Enforcement officers found evidence relating to antisocial behaviour on the premises. Waggie’s daughter was living at the house unlawfully. No other family members were in occupation.”

Diamond says Waggie’s daughter moved back to her mother’s house and took all the furniture with her when she left.

The City says the written affidavits from the community are not true, although Waggie showed proof of it upon People’s Post’s visit. Responding to the claims of continuous rent and water bills being sent to the family, Diamond says the tenancy was terminated and the Unlawful Occupation Policy and process was followed with a “notice of intention to evict” letter that were served on the unlawful occupants, who were also in occupation of a backyard structure. A letter was also sent to Waggie advising him that the family do not qualify for the tenancy in terms of City policies. “The house was rented to his mother and had to be dealt with in terms of the City’s allocation policy. The matter is currently with the City’s legal department to investigate the eviction of the unlawful backyard occupants.

“We confirm that no eviction order was served or issued, as the City dealt with the matter in terms of the above-mentioned policy.”

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