People's Post

‘Our stuff just removed’

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Dozens of families were evicted from Steenvilla in Steenberg last week.PHOTO: natasha bezuidenhout
Dozens of families were evicted from Steenvilla in Steenberg last week.PHOTO: natasha bezuidenhout

Sitting close to her belongings on the pavement in Steenberg, Shamiela du Toit patiently waits for her 12-year-old disabled daughter to arrive home from school.

Only, there won’t be a home to return to as they were just evicted and the family has no idea where they will sleep.

The family of three, who has lived at the Steenvilla housing complex since 2010, is one of dozens evicted on Tuesday 21 June.

“She (daughter) is currently at school, I am just waiting for her to come from school.”

The mom adds that they knew of the eviction, but they were not given a time when the evictions would take place to better prepare themselves.

“I was packed already with a few things; I didn’t have much in the house so basically it was our clothes and kitchen appliances.

“They broke my wall unit in the dining room when moving the stuff out. I’m not sure where we are going, our stuff was just removed. I actually don’t know where I am sleeping tonight,” she adds in a trembling voice.

“I have a disabled child and am on the housing waiting list for 27 years. Still up until now she (the councillor) has not given us any answers.

“Marita Petersen (Ward 68 councillor) promised us that they will put us up in Nutec houses in Retreat and she is not even here today.

“We’ve been evicted, she’s been promising us and every time you contact her there is no answer.”

Roderick Roland, a resident for 13 years, says while the eviction took him by surprise he had been living on grace.

“This morning was unexpected, but we knew what was going to happen. I’ve been living here for three years on grace, but they know the situation where we’ve had covid, I lost my job . . . how am I supposed to pay if I am not working?”

The 49-year-old father says he would have to move back in with his mom.

“I have to go to Vredenburg to my mom or I must look for a place to stay.”

The sickly father says he has had a few strokes in the past and is not healthy.

Zama Sijimla, a resident at Steenvilla for more than 10 years, says he has skipped rent payments for a few months.

“I’ve been living here for more than 10 years since 2010. I was paying rent, but for a few months I didn’t pay so that is why they have put me out.”

He added that he did not know where he would be staying next.

Bonita Jackson, a community worker from Steenberg, said Petersen had met with residents and promised alternative housing, but she did not deliver.

“All the councillors are not here when our coloured people are thrown out. Councillor Marita promised the people a month ago that she is going to put bungalows up for them.

 “My question to Marita, where are you now when the people are all thrown out? Their stuff is getting broken by the people who remove it. Councillors are nowhere to be found and if it comes to voting they are all up and down.”

 She added it was truly heart-breaking to witness the evictions.

“It is heart-breaking when you see elderly people cry, where are they going to sleep tonight?” 

Approached for comment, Petersen advised People’s Post to contact Malusi Booi (City’s Mayco member for human settlements). The City did not respond at the time of going to print.

Lucinda Evans, founder of Philisa Abafazi Bethu, a non-profit organisation in Steenberg, said she hoped that the community would remember the eviction when elections take place in 2024.

“We need to remember this cold day in June when families are thrown out in the cold, like dogs,” she said.

“So many law enforcement officers to evict vulnerable families, but less than two hours ago, less then 2 km away, there were not enough police vehicles for the shooting to protect the Khoisan community.”

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