“We read that the province plans to evict us and that the premier thinks we are criminals,” Reclaim the City spokesperson Bevil Lucas said.
Controversy has surrounded the home since the 150 adults and 50 children living there illegally occupied it. “Around two months ago, the province started to enquire about the number of people... living in the area. Initially they told us that they plan to develop the area,” Lucas said.
He said many of the residents would be homeless if evicted as there was no other accommodation for them in the inner city. “We are not vandals or criminals... We are people who need, and have a right to, housing. We came together as we don’t want to be forced out of well-located areas that are close to better jobs, schools and hospitals.”
In June, the provincial government said it had spent R18 million since July last year on security at the home, and the provincial department of public works said it was now forced to spend R2.9m a month on security there. Earlier this month, reports of assault and sexual abuse at the home surfaced.
Premier Helen Zille said: “We have received affidavits detailing violence and mob activity at (the home), which it is alleged the SAPS are failing to act on.” She hoped the illegal occupation would come to a swift end.