Residents of Bromwell Street in Woodstock. Judgment in the Bromwell matter, where residents have taken the City to court over housing, was reserved yesterday. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency
Residents of Bromwell Street in Woodstock. Judgment in the Bromwell matter, where residents have taken the City to court over housing, was reserved yesterday. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency

Judgment in the Bromwell housing matter reserved

By Marvin Charles Time of article published Nov 18, 2020

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Cape Town - Judgment in the Bromwell matter, where residents have taken the City to court over housing, was reserved yesterday.

The matter resumed with the City admitting that there are consequences of gentrification in the Woodstock and Salt River area.

The City’s Karrisha Pillay said: “The City accepts this situation and we accept the evidence of gentrification. The City has done enough to comply with its constitutional obligations to progressively realise the right to housing.”

Pillay suggested that Bromwell residents want to jump the housing queue.

“The fact that people have to wait 30 years on a housing waiting list is an unfortunate situation, but it’s where we stand. The City is committed to addressing spatial segregation by providing an effective and efficient transport system,” she said.

Residents are challenging the constitutionality of the City’s housing programme after it refused to provide emergency accommodation to residents who have been staying in Bromwell Street. In 2013, Woodstock Hub, a private developer, bought the cottages on Bromwell Street with the intention of developing a high-rise block of flats.

Since 2014, the residents have been resisting their eviction because it would render them homeless, as they cannot afford any other housing options in Woodstock or Salt River.

Judge Mark Sher said: “We are exporting the poorest of the poor out of the periphery of the City, and this is a result of the legacy of spatial apartheid. We cannot keep creating large camps where people languish.”

The Woodstock Hub’s Ross Randell told the court the developer had not been able to act on his rights as owner of his property.

Judge Sher asked Randell whether the property owner didn’t have a social obligation to provide housing to residents. “Isn’t this something that cries out for a contribution from the owner? Doesn’t one’s sense of decency suggest that the developer should help these people?” said Sher.

Randell told the court: “The developer ran a fund-raising campaign for people’s alternative housing.”

Disha Govender, head of the Ndifuna Ukwazi Law Clinic and attorney for the Bromwell Street residents, said: “What is clear is that the court was engaging and grappling with important issues, including whether the City’s housing programme and implementation results in the perpetuation of the legacy of spatial apartheid where the poorest of the poor, who are mainly people of colour, are relegated to the peripheries.”

Cape Argus

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