Evicted Cape Town residents challenge city's emergency housing offer

2017-01-31 12:11
Bromwell Street residents protest evictions. (Jenni Evans, News24)

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

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Cape Town - A group of Woodstock residents facing eviction to make way for developers in Bromwell Street, are challenging the emergency accommodation the City of Cape Town has offered them, in an application to the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday.

The lawyer for the 27 applicants, advocate Sheldon Magardie, submitted that the city's offer of relocating them to Wolwerivier, 29km outside the city, was unreasonable.

If they were moved to Wolwerivier, they would battle to get transport, to get to clinics and hospitals, and get their children into new schools. They felt the city had not properly looked for alternative accommodation for them in Woodstock.

He said the city had looked at lists of alternative plots suggested in Woodstock, but had declared these unsuitable.

The Woodstock Hub, known for buying up land and dilapidated units in the city, bought a strip of land with homes on it for one of its latest developments.

READ: De Lille challenged on Bromwell relocation plans

Increasing numbers of evictions

It planned to build units to rent out for around R9 000 a month in the trendy suburb - an amount out of the current residents' reach.

Magardie said the City of Cape Town was in the midst of one of the worst housing affordability crises. It must be remembered that South African cities reflected historical spatial divisions where the poor and the rich were housed in separate places, he told the court.

He included an affidavit from an expert explaining that Woodstock was seeing increasing numbers of evictions because people could no longer afford to rent there.

Outside the court, Brenda Smith, 76, told News24 that the rent on their unit had been R1 800 a month. She lives with her three children and 10 grandchildren.

They had searched for alternative accommodation, but simply could not afford the current rentals in Cape Town, nor the average R15 000 deposit required to secure a flat or house in the area.

Born in the house from which she had been evicted, Smith said the city had offered her temporary accommodation in Delft. She refused to live so far out of the city.

Emile Engel, from Bromwell Street support group Ndifuna Ukwazi, said Wolwerivier is between Mamre and the N7 to the north of Cape Town. Besides having to buy new school uniforms for the children, they would have to find a school to accommodate them.

He said the gentrification of the city was devastating people who had lived in places like Woodstock and Salt River for generations. They were being dumped outside the city where transport costs alone would use up any money they had.

Engel said the application was for the court to order that they get reasonable temporary accommodation, and that they be allowed to live there until the matter was resolved.

The city's advocate Karrisha Pillay said the city believed it had been reasonable with what it had offered and would argue further on that point later.

The application continues.

Read more on:    cape town  |  housing

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