Residents take up for neighbour

Denise Hendricks from Linda Court in Heideveld. PHOTO: AISHAH CASIEM
Denise Hendricks from Linda Court in Heideveld. PHOTO: AISHAH CASIEM

Angry residents of Linda Court stood firm in front of a council flat as the new owners of the property tried to make entry into their home earlier this month.

According to the residents, the City of Cape Town promised to hand over the flat to 56-year-old Denise Hendricks, once it had become vacant.

Hendricks has been on the housing waiting list for more than 30 years, and currently lives with her family in a small wendyhouse located in a resident’s back yard, in the same court.

Hendricks was excited to learn that she would soon receive a home from the City after numerous visits to the local rent office. But when she stepped out of her home for fresh air on the morning of Tuesday 11 September, all hell broke loose.

“Shocking news came to the family when they saw the City arriving with two people to view the place. It had become a huge concern to the community, because (Hendricks) is known to all and the residents were aware about the promise made to the elderly woman,” explains Vennessa Avriaanse, spokesperson for the family.

“This angered everyone. The community took it upon themselves to stop the residents from moving in and we occupied the flat with our presence. There were a few arguments and the police had to come in to remove us.

“The flat has since been locked down and notices of trespassing have been placed across the windows. We respect the work of the police and will not interfere by trespassing. But the City must come out and sort this issue because 12 Linda Court belongs to [Hendricks].”

She says when the place became empty, Hendricks was excited, thinking and believing that her family would finally get service and justice.

“[Hendricks] has been on a waiting list since 1989. It was said to her that if there should ever be a place available in Heideveld, she would be contacted first for accommodation in terms of her waiting period and because of her conditions.

“We understand the regulations in terms of the City, but we find it difficult to understand why someone who made an application for a house 10 years ago is already accommodated and not people like [Hendricks­]­.

“The community is standing firm and will not allow anyone in the flat unless it’s this elderly woman and her family,” adds Avraainse­.

Hendricks’s daughter, Kauthar Bardien, says life has been tough for the family for as long as she can remember.

“We have been living in these conditions for all my life. We can’t even get out of our front door because our place is falling apart and could collapse at any time. During winter things are even worse as the Wendy house is cold and filled with rain.

“We all share this small space. My two adult brothers, over the ages of 27 and 38, sleep on the top section of a small double bunk and myself and my daughter on the bottom bed. My little boy sleeps with my parents because I can’t let him sleep with us as there is no space.

“I don’t think it is right that my family has to suffer like this. I just want justice and I want the City to give my mother what was promised to her over the past few years,” adds Bardien.

Stuart Diamond, Mayco member for assets and facilities management, says: “The City follows a set of stringent criteria in the allocation of rental units to individuals or couples.

“In this regard, Mr and Mrs Hendricks were contacted in turn, for possible consideration in terms of this rental vacancy.

“When a rental unit becomes available the City ensures that everyone on the waiting list is given a fair and equal opportunity to access the City’s rental units. Unfortunately Mrs Hendricks could not provide any proof of identity which is an auditor requirement­.

“Since it’s crucial that we proceed in filling the vacancy timeously to avoid the risk of illegal occupation or vandalism, the offer was extended to the next applicant on the waiting list who had since accepted the offer. Hendricks has been encouraged to apply for her identity documents and will be considered for future vacancies and in accordance with the City’s housing allocation policy.”

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