District Six pensioners facing private eviction meets City for mediation

The cottages located at Searle Street, District Six. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

The cottages located at Searle Street, District Six. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

Published Nov 16, 2023


Cape Town - The six families, facing eviction by a private property owner, have met with the City of Cape Town for mediation, calling for the properties in Searle Street, District Six, which have been occupied by their families for over 100 years, to be expropriated.

The senior residents and their lawyer met for mediation at the Cape Town Civic Centre yesterday. The cottages were some of the last of the original houses in District Six that survived demolitions.

One of the occupants, Sean Savage, said: “The eviction that we received now we feel is unjust. We want the City and the government to come and speak about getting things right.

“Not only are we in those houses for over 100 years, but we are also the last original residents of District Six. They talk about restitution and all that, we’re suffering now what the others have suffered long ago. And so we feel that its only right for the City to expropriate the properties.”

The properties were owned by the Order of the Sisters of the Holy Cross, who put the properties up for sale. The new owner, Ettiene du Toit, took registration of the property in June 2022, and eviction notices were hand-delivered shortly thereafter.

They were given one month’s notice to vacate. Du Toit purchased the six cottages for R245 0000 (R40 833 each) on September 9, 2014. In the Notice of Motion, it is said Du Toit claims the properties are worth R7.5 million.

Savage said: “Last year in November just before Christmas the owner refused to pay his side of the bill so the City cut our water. Over the whole Christmas period we had no electricity or water.

“It has been a tough time for the family, they’re not youngsters. The whole thing has just been traumatic, up till today it’s still traumatic. So we’re just hoping and praying the City will have a change of heart. They’re allocating a lot of money for a lot of different things and all we ask is for them to compensate this guy. We don’t want to short-change him, I don't blame him. He was just the buyer, but they need to take all these things into consideration.”

The matter is currently at the Cape Town High Court.

Lawyer Frankl Weber said mediation would continue on November 28. The matter in court will proceed if mediation “fails in its entirety”. Du Toit chose not to take part in the mediation.

“We just remain hopeful that there will be a positive outcome for the residents bearing the historical context and the symbol that the residents present,” Weber said.

The City is cited as one of the respondents in the private eviction. The City said: “The Occupant-Respondents have opposed their eviction and are now seeking an expropriation by way of a counter-claim against the City, Provincial Government and National Government, which the City is opposing.”

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Cape Argus