Ruyterwacht Community Association, Communicare case must go to judge president
Cape Town - An application by the Ruyterwacht Community Association (RCA) to prevent social housing giant Communicare from transferring control of its assets to a subsidiary has been postponed indefinitely by the Western Cape High Court pending guidance from the office of the Judge President.
Emotions ran high outside the court during a placard protest by about 40 tenants of various Communicare properties waiting to hear from their lawyer what had happened in court.
Inside the court, Judge Patrick Gamble ruled that the matter would stand over. This came after the RCA’s advocate, Thando Dondolo, asked if the application could be joined to a similar one from the tenants of Communicare’s Albatross social housing project.
According to the court papers, the RCA asked the court to interdict Communicare from transferring assets to its subsidiary, Good Find Properties, which is currently responsible for managing various Communicare properties and tenants.
The RCA wanted Communicare prevented from “threatening tenants who are refusing to sign new contracts with Good Find Properties and asking them to sign short term lease agreements in exchange for lower rent.”
The RCA requested that Communicare be prevented from “evicting tenants from premises without first considering their financial situation and waiting for the conclusion of a complaint currently before the rent housing tribunal”. It also asked that Communicare stop terminating the lease agreements of tenants who did not want to sign lease agreements with Good Find Properties.
Speaking to the protesters after the application was stood down, Dondolo said: “We will have to go and approach the Judge President to seek guidance as to how to move forward regarding this issue.
“However, we are not closing the option of negotiating with Communicare to see if it is possible that they can come to their senses this late. We are not anti-negotiation.”
RCA chairperson Mandisa Zamile said: “This matters goes back to 2018 when Communicare wrote a letter to say they had transferred the management of their properties and assets to a profit making organisation called Good Find.
“We were not consulted about this move and were only informed by the letter. In the same letter we were told that we need to sign new three year lease agreements with this private body and we disagreed, because there was no guarantee after that lease was up that we could remain on the properties.
“Before this happened, we had an open ended lease agreement that did not state when a tenant had to leave. People have lived in their houses for more than 40 years in some cases. These new three year leases meant our future would be unsettled.”
Communicare spokesperson Megan Lennart said: “The RCA is seeking to intervene with the day-to-day running of Communicare NPC and its subsidiaries. We don’t believe there is legal merit for the application and we are confident that the court will find in our favour and put an end to the legal challenge advanced by this group.
“We look forward to defending this case as it will finally set the record straight for several unfounded allegations that have been levelled against Communicare over the years.”