Bromwell Street judge stuns with court comments

Bromwell Street resident Charnell Commando describes the group’s concerns about being relocated to Wolwerivier. (Barbara Maregele, GroundUp)
Bromwell Street resident Charnell Commando describes the group’s concerns about being relocated to Wolwerivier. (Barbara Maregele, GroundUp)

Cape Town - A Cape Town judge's comments about evicted Bromwell Street residents left them and their supporters stunned on Tuesday.

"What's the point of being near a school? What's the point of them being near transport? Where are they going to go?" asked Judge Leslie Weinkove who was hearing an application regarding the emergency accommodation of the 27 people due to be evicted from the Woodstock houses.

This was after Weinkove heard that the majority of the 16 adults living in Bromwell Street are unemployed and cannot afford the high rentals of the inner city but do not want to be stuck out in the middle of nowhere.

They were in court to challenge the City of Cape Town's plans to relocate them to temporary emergency accommodation at Wolwerivier Farm, 28.2km outside the city.

They do not want to live at Wolwerivier because it is too far away from Woodstock, where some have lived for decades, and believe the city had not properly considered the list of 45 potential state-owned sites they suggested as alternative relocation areas.

Weinkove, who said his father once owned a farm in Wolwerivier, near Dunoon, wanted to know why they were complaining about there not being transport, health facilities and schools close by.

Gasp over description of spokesperson

Some of the people in the gallery had to be subdued by people sitting near them when he wanted to know why they were not prepared to join the streams of people in their cars driving to work in the city every day from as far away as Somerset West.

Weinkove felt a balance needed to be found between the developer's rights, and the rights of the Bromwell Street residents, but was not sure that location should be the determining factor.

He also had those in the public gallery gasping over his description of the group's spokesperson, Charnell Commando, who compiled the list of potential sites in the inner city.

Flicking through the court papers, he muttered loudly, "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."

'It is just bush out there'

The city's counsel Advocate Karrisha Pillay said because some of the evicted residents had said they had even looked as far as Mitchells Plain for alternative accommodation, she could not understand why they would object to going a little further out to Wolwerivier Farm's temporary relocation site which is between Mamre and Melkbosstrand.

"Because it is just bush out there," said some of the people in the court, too angry to keep their voices low.

Weinkove also said there was a "nice" bus service out there for them.

"Wolwerivier is at Dunoon where my parents had a farm.

"They have that nice MyCiti bus route - so it's not an area that's isolated," he said, to loud retorts from the gallery of "go visit!"

The case will continue on Wednesday.

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