Ground floor debacle

2019-03-05 06:00
Trudy WichmanPHOTO: Nomzamo Yuku

Trudy WichmanPHOTO: Nomzamo Yuku

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Two families living at a four-storey Strandloper Hof Block in Hangberg are fighting over a ground floor flat, with each claiming to desperately need.

The flats are owned by the City of Cape Town and the fight has since polarised the community.

According to their narration, the issue began last year in July after a tenant at one of the ground floors in the block died.

It is alleged that the relatives of the deceased, Cynthia Davids (61) and her partner Jacobus Van Zyl (65), Cynthia’s daughter Ronnel (32), as well as four-year-old Zara, moved into the apartment soon after the owner was buried.

The Wichman family is living in the top floor of the block with their disabled “immobile” mother Trudy who suffered a stroke.

At the moment, the Wichman family staying on the fourth floor of the building had earmarked the apartment to alleviate their mother’s suffering.

However, the Davids’ family, who are related to the deceased, cited overcrowding in their home as the reason for moving into the house. The family claims to have over 10 family members living in a single-room apartment.

The Wichman family is accusing the City of letting them down. They say their application to move to the ground-floor of the flats was approved in 2013.Trudy’s daughter, Anneliese Wichman says they applied for a ground floor flat as soon as their mother suffered a stroke in 2012. Their application was approved, but there has been no vacant apartments.“I notified them (City) as soon as we learned that the tenant had died,” she said, adding that they hoped to finally get a place.

Wichman says the matter was still “under review” when the Davids family moved in. She says she reported the matter to the City, but was told to wait. “I was told there were processes to be followed as they could not evict them since they had minors in the flat,” says Wichman. She expressed her disappointment with the City’s answer.

“I was so disappointed because we really struggle with my mom. We cannot take her anywhere and she even stopped all her therapies because taking her down the stairs whenever she has appointments is very difficult and risky,” she says. The family uses a wheelchair to move Trudy around and have to take her down the stairs on a wheelchair as the apartment has no lifts.

Wichman says she left her job in 2012 to look after her mother and life is tough. “She is unable to walk and need help with everything,” she says. “Her recovery progress has been very slow since she stopped therapies.”

On the other hand, Davids says they needed the apartment and since it was rented by their family member “It carries a valuable history for our family” says Davids, the late man’s sister. “My daughter was born here. My brother took the flat over from my mom hence we are so attached to it. We have proof and we are prepared to go to court to defend ourselves,” vowed Davids.

Davids says she also suffers from various chronic illnesses and the City is aware of that. She says they have been on the City’s housing waiting list for more than 10 years.

Malusi Booi, the City’s mayco member for human settlements says the City’s Human Settlements Directorate, confirmed that Wichman is being considered for ground floor accommodation. “To date no suitable vacancy has become available. Further medical reports confirming Mrs Wichman’s medical condition will be required. Ground floor accommodation is at a premium and very seldom becomes available.”

He further says each medical case presented to the City is dealt with on an individual basis and on its merits.


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