Leandra and Colin Lesal and their 18-year-old son have been living in a room above the church hall for six years.
In December they received a notice from the church telling them to vacate the premises after a new reverend took over.
Leandra said that when they first moved into the property it was arranged that she and her husband would work for the church and live in the property rent free. This arrangement was made with the previous reverend and church wardens and had lasted for six years.
“My husband did maintenance work and gardening and was the caretaker for the church. I did messenger work, cleaning the church and some administrative work. That is how we paid rent,” she said.
Prior to moving into the church in 2013, Leandra and her family lived on the streets for about four weeks. Colin had been laid off at work after he was diagnosed with lung disease and had spent a month at Groote Schuur Hospital.
“A friend invited me to the church, and after sharing my story with the wardens, they spoke to the reverend and we were offered the space on condition that we worked for the church,” she said.
Leandra said she feared living on the streets again.
“Everyone in the church we have worked with has turned their backs on us.”
The Lesal family are one of two renters being evicted by the church.
Victor Botes, who runs the Fighting Spirit Boxing & Martial Arts Club, which has been operating from the church hall for 16 years, is also being sent packing.
“We had a good relationship where they would come after a year and ask that I sign the lease agreement, and some years would pass with no lease agreement signed,” he said.
In the notice, the reverend said Botes was damaging his reputation by allegedly calling him spiteful.
Father Ashley Petersen of the St James Church said Botes was being evicted because he was meddling with church affairs.
About the Lesal family, Petersen said the church was unable to sustain itself and house the family for free.