Cape Town – The Woodstock Hospital) occupants, through their legal representatives, the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, are preparing arguments in order to oppose the City’s application for a court-ordered survey of the almost 1 000 occupants.
This after the Western Cape High Court granted the occupants an opportunity to respond to the City’s application and postponed the matter to April 22.
Reclaim the City Woodstock Chapter leader Denver Arendse said: “I think we have a ground to stand on and even our attorneys will put forward a very good argument on why the City should not proceed with the survey, as well as evidence as to how the City came about doing this in an unfair manner as well.”
In a statement, the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) said the City intended to evict their clients in order to develop the property into social housing units, yet the law around evictions was clear that no one may be evicted from their home if they would be left homeless.
“It would not be in the interests of justice to remove the occupants of the building. It seems particularly unjust to do so when the land is intended to be used by exactly the kinds of people already occupying the property.
“If the eviction were to go ahead, this would constitute the largest mass displacement since the forced removals of the apartheid era. It is unclear why the City of Cape Town would seek to proceed with an eviction of this magnitude even during the current pandemic.
“We advocate a moratorium on evictions until after the current pandemic and state of disaster, and argue that the residents of Cissie Gool House should be allowed to occupy the land already intended for their use,” the statement said.
CALS attorney Vuyolethu Mntonintshi said the City could not displace one set of working-class people for another.
“We know the City intends to build social housing units on the property for low-income households, but there needs to be a plan in place for the people already living in the building,” he said.
Mayco member for human settlements Malusi Booi said this would further delay social housing development at the site. He said a court-ordered survey was needed to determine the number of illegal occupants, their identities, monthly income, eligibility for state-subsidised housing, and willingness to vacate the property so that social housing plans were not further delayed.
“The matter is urgent as the City is able to proceed with social housing building plan submissions within a short time frame due to favourable zoning and rights on the property subject to any heritage requirements,” he said.
Booi said it was hoped people would move from the property voluntarily.