A small group of Gatesville tenants gathered in protest over poor conditions of flats. Picture: Supplied
A small group of Gatesville tenants gathered in protest over poor conditions of flats. Picture: Supplied

Gatesville residents hold peaceful protest over poorly maintained flats

By Shakirah Thebus Time of article published Oct 20, 2021

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Cape Town - Gatesville residents, some elderly, gathered in protest over the shoddy conditions of flats in their area.

The protest took place at the Department of Human Settlements in Wale Street, in the CBD, and was arranged by the tenants and the Gatesville Tenants Committee. Around 40 people took part.

Gatesville Tenants Committee spokesperson Fowzia Veerasamy said the protest was brought on by the lack of communication, poor maintenance of flats, and the deaths occurring in the flats.

Veerasamy said 16 people had died during the period January to October 2021.

“Structural defects cause fear and panic in the tenants’ daily lives,” said Veerasamy.

A lawyer’s letter was handed over with a list of demands.

The list of demands included the immediate repair of the flats, consisting of 18 blocks totalling 136 units with around 1 000 residents. Veerasamy said the majority of the residents were seniors with health issues. Some residents have reported unexplainable rashes.

Veerasamy said there was no fire escape and health and safety regulations in place for the provincial-owned flats.

Veerasamy said some of the issues tenants have to contend with are sagging floors, weak columns, asbestos roofs, and water seeping through when it’s raining.

“All seniors receive one Sassa payout but pay different rental payments,” said Veerasamy.

Project co-ordinator Nadeem Naidoo said: “The protest was very peaceful, it wasn’t our intention to be disruptive. Our aim was for our voice to be heard and it was achieved. However, we highlighted to them that previously we had to deal with other stakeholders and whatever was promised didn’t materialise.

“There are so many issues. Currently, the conditions of the flats are inhumane. We have issues of columns supporting the structures collapsing and temporary props have been put in by housing to support the structure,” said Naidoo.

Naidoo said some residents have lived in the flats for over 45 years and have not yet received their title deeds as promised years before.

“We are saying these title deeds need to happen as soon as possible so we can take ownership. The injustice of the apartheid regime made that we couldn’t own and now we want to own to allow our kids to inherit property that has been paid over and over again.”

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