Unity against evictions

2019-04-02 06:01
Some residents say they have stayed in the premises for many years and cannot imagines starting lives anywhere else. PHOTOs: Nomzamo Yuku

Some residents say they have stayed in the premises for many years and cannot imagines starting lives anywhere else. PHOTOs: Nomzamo Yuku

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Residents facing evictions in different areas met under one roof to share their frustrations, trying to find means of stopping evictions posed to them by the authorities.

They met at Ragmaniyeh Primary School in Zonnebloem on Wednesday 27 March.

The venue was full to its capacity with residents from Steenvilla in Steenberg, De Waal Drive in Zonnebloem, Naruna Estate in Plumstead and South Road families from Wynberg.

The meeting was organised by South Road families, with its chairperson Clive Muller saying the joint action was long overdue and took a lot of effort from all the affected residents as they travelled from various areas. He says the aim is to make the issue of “marginalisation” and forced evictions to be treated as a provincial issue as these issues are seemingly a plight in many areas.

The issues of evictions have been an ongoing thing over the years and in some areas like Woodstock people had been moved outside the city to Blikkersdorp and other areas and others including tenants at Albert Road are still fighting their battle against the City of Cape Town. These residents say they want to avoid similar situations. While the South Road families have been issued with notices of evictions due to the planned R800m MyCiti Route that was announced recently unanimously approved by the City of Cape Town in February, others have been issued with “unexplainable” amended lease contracts.

According to reports Steenvilla residents in Steenberg are being evicted because they are in arrears with rent, and in De Waal Drive and Naruna Estate residents say they are pressed to sign the amended three-year lease or vacate the premises. There are 700 families affected and 160 summons of evictions have been recently issued. They say they have over the years been battling with exorbitant rental subsidies of more than R5 000 per month.

They say most affected families have stayed in the properties for over 60 years.

The issue started over two years ago and they have been trying to engage with the authorities, organising public meeting but up to date, nothing happened. But, they are continuously being threatened to sign.

Beverley Strong of Naruna Estate which has 166 units says they have taken the matter to the Housing Tribunal and they have been advised by their legal team that the document presented to them by the Provincial Housing Department is not valid and there could be no implications for not signing it. “Please do not sign anything. How can a province continue to harass us based on an illegal document.” They want public consultations to take place to address their concerns with all the relevant authorities.

The meeting was attended by African National Congress Western Province election head Ebrahim Rasool who they had invited with the hope that he would help them get legal help and speed the process and stop the evictions. They gave him two weeks to come with a plan moving forward.

Rasool said he will visit all possible avenues to help find solutions, saying he would arrange a meeting with the national department and the provincial department as well as the local councillors and see if they can jointly find solutions for the evictions. He said it shall also be investigated whether there is an override button that could be pushed to speed the processes and stop the evictions. He warned residents to not sign anything.

Residents emphasised to Rasool the urgency of the matter and said they are afraid if the authorities continue to overlook their concerns and carry on there could be a “bloodshed like it happened under the apartheid regime.”

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