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Former Schubart Park residents protest

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ABOUT 1500 former residents of the iconic Schubart Park took to the streets of the city yesterday morning demanding the speedy refurbishments of the flats.

The residents also demanded that the city stop threatening them with evictions at their temporary places of accommodation. They said they were being continually told the city could no longer afford to lease out houses to them.

The residents were evicted from Schubart Park, then plagued by deteriorating infrastructure and overcrowding, in 2011.

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Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga is escorted after receiving a memorandum of demands from former Schubart Park residents. Pictures: Oupa MokoenaFormer Schubart Park residents march to the mayor’s offices to hand over a memorandum of demands.

A year later, the Constitutional Court ruled that the residents were entitled to occupy the flats. The city also had to find them alternative accommodation while renovating Schubart Park.

The first eviction had taken place in 2008, but residents went back to the flats.

The chairperson of the former residents, Ali Mashimbye, said the march was provoked by threats from the city that Schubart Park residents would be evicted from their temporary homes.

“We were promised that the Schubart Park renovations would be completed by January 2017, but his has not happened,” he said.

“The city took advantage of us because of our poor economic statuses and evicted us like animals.”

The march started from Schubart Park and proceeded to Isivuno House via Lilian Ngoyi Street, the administrative headquarters of the City of Tshwane, where protesters handed a memorandum to Mayor Solly Msimanga.

Among the participants were Right2Know, as well as residents and different political movements. They brought temporary closure to Madiba Street as they sang and danced.

Msimanga was waiting for them and he accepted and signed the memorandum before being whisked away, manoeuvring through the angry crowd of residents who sang Struggle songs.

Some hurled insults at the mayor, blaming him for taking the city in the same direction as the former ANC government did.

The city cited increased urbanisation, dilapidation, inhumane conditions and hijacking of the building when it threw the residents out of the blocks of flats, Mashimbye said.

“On September 21, 2011, the City of Tshwane brutally evicted us from our homes in Schubart Park after we complained about the inhumane living conditions.”

He said the municipality chose to defy an order of the Constitutional Court to provide the evicted residents with accommodation. Since their eviction, they had not seen refurbishment taking place.

“These people treat us the same; they think we are not human beings and deserve to be homeless. They are just like the ANC,” said Tshepo Moyela, one of the protesters.

The residents felt that the wagon had not moved an inch since the Constitutional Court order which directed the municipality to refurbish Schubart Park and relocate residents.

The residents gave the mayor seven days to respond to their demands, which included the renovation of Schubart Park. Mashao Chauke, who read the memorandum before handing it to the mayor, said if the city was unable to renovate the flats, it must give them serviced land.

“If you can’t give us land, just give us RDP houses and stop threatening us with evictions," he said.

The provincial organiser for Right2Know, Ntombi Yebongo, said the rights of the residents ought to be respected. Yebongo was also a resident at Schubart Park.

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