City of Cape Town, Cissie Gool House occupants reach agreement on survey
Cape Town - The City and the attorneys for the more than 900 people occupying the Cissie Gool House (Woodstock Hospital) have reached an agreement, backed by an order of the Western Cape High Court, to conduct a survey to determine the identity and the number of occupiers.
The agreement came after occupiers, who come under the Reclaim the City banner, won their challenge against having the City conduct the survey and the court ordered that the survey must instead be conducted by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), who are the attorneys for the occupiers.
Before the agreement was reached, a number of the occupiers held a demonstration outside the court.
Reclaim the City’s Denver Arendse said: “The survey is the first step in the City’s court application to evict us from our only home in one of the biggest evictions in Cape Town since the forced removals during apartheid.
“For almost four years Cissie Gool House has offered a refuge and safe house to poor and working-class families that would otherwise have faced homelessness and displacement as a result of rampant gentrification in the Woodstock and Salt River areas.
“While the residents are willing to provide their personal information, the City’s reprehensible past behaviour, including midnight raids by law enforcement officials in combat gear and intimidation tactics, shows that the City is biased against the residents and should not be allowed to conduct the survey.”
In terms of the order, CALS will supply the court with a verified spreadsheet of biographical information and affidavits which must be filed with the court by August 5 this year.
The court order said that the City should file a report with the court within six months of receiving the spreadsheet and affidavits.
The report will show among other things whether the City has engaged with the occupiers represented by CALS.
The court order further authorises the City to supplement its founding affidavit for the purposes of eviction proceedings should this become necessary.
Mayco member for human settlements Malusi Booi said: “This brings the City closer to its plans to drive social housing and reverse the toxic legacy of organised building hijackings which took place in March 2017.
”The information provided will enable the City to meaningfully engage the represented illegal occupants on whether they are prepared to vacate the property.
“The City also wants to know whether the occupiers will require alternative accommodation if they refuse to vacate the property and an eviction becomes necessary and whether a represented illegal occupant qualifies for available state-subsidised housing, emergency housing, or social housing, either in the planned development or as may be available elsewhere.”
According to the City, around 700 social housing units are possible at the Woodstock site, and this makes it their biggest project in the area. Other social housing projects in the area with major milestones coming up this year amount collectively to around 620 units.