Cape Town evictions saga: Appeal Court reserves judgment in Bromwell Street housing battle

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The judgment in the matter between Bromwell Street  residents and the City of Cape Town over public housing has been reserved.
The judgment in the matter between Bromwell Street residents and the City of Cape Town over public housing has been reserved.
PHOTO: Ashraf Hendricks/GroundUp
  • The housing battle between residents of Bromwell Street in Woodstock and the City of Cape Town was heard in the Supreme Court of Appeal.
  • The City plans to challenge a court ruling which declared part of its emergency housing programme unconstitutional.
  • Judgment in the matter was reserved on Monday.

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has reserved judgment in the six-year battle between residents of Bromwell Street in Woodstock and the City of Cape Town over public housing.

During the case, heard on Monday, the City argued that municipalities had no obligation to place emergency accommodation in a particular area.

In 2021, the Western Cape High Court declared the City's emergency housing programme and its implementation concerning residents rendered homeless upon eviction unconstitutional.

The court ordered the City to provide the residents with temporary, emergency accommodation or transitional housing as close to their current homes as possible. The City was granted leave to appeal.

In its court documents, the City argued that the eviction order against the Bromwell Street residents was granted by an agreement between The Woodstock Hub and the residents.

The City said there was no involvement on its part.

READ | Cape Town evictions saga: Bromwell Street battle heads to Supreme Court of Appeal

During Monday's hearing, the City said it had offered accommodation at Kampies informal settlement in Philippi, including building material and a portable flush toilet on a piece of land.

The City added that not everyone living in informal structures would qualify for social housing.

The legal representatives of the Bromwell residents argued that the consequence of the City's implementation of social housing was that people who earned less than R3 500 didn't qualify for social housing. It added that the City failed to present the cold hard facts to explain the position.

In response to News24, the City said it was concerned that the High Court judgment set an unsustainable precedent for the state to provide accommodation to people who had been evicted.

"Whether in a public or private eviction – in the immediate vicinity of the relevant unlawful occupation. The state has neither the resources nor the land available to comply with such a precedent, which would impede existing housing development plans across the metro," the City said.

It added that the High Court judgment was in violation of a Constitutional Court precedent and came despite paragraph 159 of the High Court judgment itself acknowledging that it would be "an impossible burden" on the state "to accommodate evictees who are going to be rendered homeless in virtually every suburb or area in which they live".

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