Cape Town kitchen assistant applies for judge's recusal in land case

2017-04-05 20:50
Bromwell Street residents protest evictions. (Jenni Evans, News24)

Bromwell Street residents protest evictions. (Jenni Evans, News24)

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Cape Town - A kitchen assistant is leading the charge to have Western Cape High Court acting Judge Leslie Weinkove sanctioned and recused by the Judicial Conduct Committee, after remarks he made about her and her neighbours who face eviction from Bromwell Street, Cape Town, activist group Ndifuna Ukwazi said on Wednesday.

Charnell Commando, who works at the popular Café Ganesh in Observatory, and 14 other complainants, felt that during their court application, Weinkove had used apartheid-era terms to describe them and their situation.

They say he appeared to have no understanding or sensitivity toward poor people with no security of tenure, based on some of the remarks he made.

Commando had identified and documented vacant land in Woodstock and the Cape Town CBD to present as alternatives to Wolwerivier, so they could stay in the area after their eviction.

Offensive, demeaning words

Weinkove's remarks about Commando, who he initially identified as a man, had the court gasping during the hearing in January.

"What's her name? Charnell? She is a kitchen assistant in Observatory and now she's an expert. She doesn't know what the budget of the city council is; she doesn't know what money they get.

"She doesn't know this stuff, she is a kitchen assistant."

After going through the court transcripts, lawyers for Ndifuna Ukwazi, who are acting on the complainants behalf, identified a number of words and expressions deemed to be offensive and demeaning.

These include "squatters" and "these people".

They felt Weinkove had failed to appreciate that they were once lawful occupiers when they were renting, but that the property had then been sold to private developers to build apartments, which they would not be able to afford.

The alternative accommodation offered to them was in Wolwerivier - an isolated transit camp almost 30km from the Woodstock/Salt River area where they live - which was set up by the City of Cape Town.

They said it was too far away from their children's schools, work opportunities, and public transport.

Commando had suggested alternate vacant land in Woodstock.

In their lengthy application, the complainants explained that Weinkove's comments, including asking why the occupants would need buses, had led them to believe that he would be biased against them.

Judgment has not yet been handed down.

The Judicial Service Commission could not immediately confirm the date, but Ndifuna Ukwazi said it was set down for argument on May 17 and 18.

Read more on:    cape town  |  judiciary  |  housing

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