Giving R2m plots to the poor in Cape Town is unfair - city

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 - It would be unfair to give the evicted Bromwell Street residents prime Cape Town land worth R2m when a state erf in Khayelitsha is only worth R200 000, a lawyer for the City of Cape Town said on Wednesday.

“The city believes this is neither sustainable, nor fair,” Karrisha Pillay said in the Western Cape High Court.

She was arguing against an application brought by 27 Bromwell Street, Woodstock, residents who were refusing to accept emergency accommodation in Wolwerivier, 28km from the homes they were evicted from to make away for a housing development.

She said the city had explained in detail that it needed social housing in the city, and so it needed to make some trade-offs.

READ: Bromwell Street residents voice anger over judge's 'kitchen assistant' comment

This meant it could not build an emergency accommodation camp in the city, where land values were high and rates expensive, and where it was already planning social housing projects.

It could not accommodate the 27 Bromwell Street residents on sites already chosen as transit points for people who stood to get state housing in Salt River and Woodstock.

Even if the land was suitable, normal city process would have to be followed, and Bromwell residents might not even get the land they found, said Pillay.

Group spokesperson Charnell Commando, also a resident of Bromwell Street, compiled a list of 45 potential emergency sites within 5km of the city centre, and had handed it to the City of Cape Town.

This was in an attempt to avoid being moved to the Wolwerivier camp, which was too far from all amenities.

The plots of land Commando chose included one with a community hall, a parking lot, and a substation.

The City of Cape Town owned 15 on the list. The remainder belonged to the Western Cape government.

There was one transit site within the city, but it was already full, said Pillay.

The case arose after the Woodstock Hub bought the quaint but run-down houses from 120 to 128 Bromwell Street from a private owner in 2013.

It wanted to build mid-priced rental units costing around R9 000 a month, but could not lay a brick until the residents had moved on.

The case continues after the lunch adjournment.

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