Cape Town - Six Searle Street residents, among them pensioners, are once again preparing to do battle in their long-running fight against eviction in the courts in a case where they will be urging the State to expropriate the properties they live in so as to preserve them for posterity.
This is not the first time that the residents, who survived apartheid’s forced removals in the 1960s and 1970s when almost all residents of District Six, a largely coloured area, were subjected to mass removals under apartheid's Group Areas Act, are going to court.
However, their attorney Frankl Weber believes they have a very good chance of success with their unique case, which has been set on the roll of the Western Cape High Court for May 5.
In their notice about the case the residents say the property should be expropriated due to its heritage and the history of the occupants “who are people of colour and primarily descendants of people who were not evicted by the execution of the Group Areas Act.”
They say if the land is expropriated reasonable compensation should be paid to the registered owner of the property. They are also calling for the assistance of a “suitably qualified mediator who could expedite the resolution of disputes between the parties” and spare them the costs of protracted litigation.
The residents are suing their landlord, Etienne du Toit, who took registration of the property in June 2022, soon after which eviction notices were hand-delivered, giving them a month to vacate, as well as the City and the provincial and national housing ministers.
In a collective statement, the Searle Street residents said while they were elated that progress had been made in the national land restitution process, they felt more needed to be done.
“Our families have lived in these cottages for the past three generations, since the 1920s. And we sincerely hope the cottages will be included in the second phase of areas in District Six to be declared National Heritage Sites as they form part of the remaining existing buildings of District Six.”
Asked what the best outcome he and his fellow residents could hope for from the forthcoming court case, Sean Savage, one of the six applicants in the case, said: “The ideal outcome for me would be to remain in the home and community that I have known and been a part of for the past 54 years.”
Previously, the Cape Argus reported that Du Toit purchased the property, which comprises six cottages for a mere R2450000 in September 2014.
This issue forms a separate matter which is in court and Du Toit’s attorney said: “As a result of the matter being sub judice, our client’s instructions are not to discuss the matter with the media as he does not want to prejudice his legal rights.”