Activists have occupied Woodstock Hospital, which they have since named Cissie Gool House, since 2017 in an effort to draw attention to the need for affordable housing. File picture.
Activists have occupied Woodstock Hospital, which they have since named Cissie Gool House, since 2017 in an effort to draw attention to the need for affordable housing. File picture.

City 'planting' Cape law enforcement to intimidate Woodstock Hospital occupants

By Mthuthuzeli Ntseku Time of article published Feb 3, 2021

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Cape Town - While the City of Cape Town says it will pursue eviction proceedings subject to lockdown regulations if the occupants of the Woodstock Hospital don’t leave, the residents have accused the City of “planting” law enforcement officers to intimidate them.

Ndodana Hadebe from Reclaim the City said: “They are intimidating the residents and at times taking photos and patrolling around the hospital. Last year we pushed the caravan outside.They left and are back again. We live in fear of being moved forcefully like District Six people years ago.

“While (Malusi) Booi’s allegations of rampant criminality are unsubstantiated, we do not claim to be exempt from the social ills that affect poor and working-class communities,” he said.

Reclaim the City Woodstock leader Karen Hendricks said they have repeatedly called on the City to engage the residents on the redevelopment of the site, as people should be the driving force and help with reimagining what the space can be.

“The process of co-designing the hospital was welcomed by the City in 2019 until it was stopped by them and we want to know why they turned around during Covid-19, choosing to evict rather than consider an alternative solution which we have put forward to them.

“If the City is serious about redressing spatial apartheid, it needs to be flexible and start looking at alternative housing models, including the type of community-driven housing we have already created in our community,” she said.

The Mayco Member for Human Settlements said the 700 planned social housing units could be derailed at Woodstock Hospital if the “Ndifuna Ukwazi enabled” occupants refuse to vacate and the necessary High Court orders are not granted.

Mayor Dan Plato said the “toxic legacy” of Ndifuna Ukwazi’s organised land invasions was the biggest obstacle to social housing on well-located sites in central Cape Town.

“They billed the illegal invasions as a ‘symbolic’ act, but they have lost control over the situation. We will stand up for the rule of law as a means to keep driving well-located social housing projects in line with our new human settlements strategy,” said Plato.

Safety and Security executive director Richard Bosman said the unlawful occupation of the property had resulted in vandalism and destruction at the property. He said there had also been reports of crime occurring at the property and this has impacted negatively on the surrounding community.

“Complaints received by the City include damaged water pipes, fire hydrants, electricity cables and connections. Although security is still at the property and an interdict has since been obtained over the property, this had not stopped or deterred further people from moving onto the property.

“The constant breach of the City’s by-laws (including noise, nuisance and informal trading) and other crime reportedly occurring at the property such as vandalism, violence and theft has necessitated an increased law enforcement presence at the property,” he said.

Bosman said as from December 23, the City deployed 10 law enforcement officers per shift to the property, and this was increased to a four-shift deployment from January 1.

“This is a significant amount of manpower that the City has had to deploy to the property, largely to ensure compliance with its by-laws and to guard against criminal activities taking place there. Further damage to the property were recently reported,” Bosman said.

Cape Argus

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