Cape Town - The Gugulethu community are up in arms over the eviction of the Uluntu pre-school from a building where it has served as an early childhood development (ECD) centre for 40 years.
Angry residents disrupted morning traffic on Thursday, burning tyres in the road and demanding the police not evict their children and the crèche management from the site.
Uluntu pre-school principal Nombulelo Mzimkulu said they have operated on the site for 40 years. She said things changed in 2012 when someone who claimed to have bought the land arrived, “but they did not succeed”.
Mzimkulu said she was surprised when people came around 4am on Thursday to evict them from the site.
One of the parents who was at the site when the Cape Argus arrived, Sindiswa Shoba, said she was disappointed to receive news about the eviction.
Shoba said her child attended the pre-school, and she also attended it in her day.
"We cannot afford to lose this place, it means a lot to us and many residents can attest to that," she said.
Police spokesperson Joseph Swartbooi said residents barricaded the road with burning tyres and rubble, where Public Order Police used action to disperse the crowd.
"Our members will stay in the area to monitor the situation," said Swartbooi.
The company 255 Gugulethu (Pty) Ltd said they attempted during the whole of 2019 to reach an agreement with Uluntu Crèche which is on a property in Gugulethu which they (the company) bought to develop.
The company said the concept was to develop the centre, in concert with the community, with community shops surrounding anchor tenants.
"Eventually, in January 2020, we were left with no option other than to apply for eviction. The negotiations had got nowhere, and no utilities at all were being paid, let alone anything else," the company said.
It said as set out in the affidavit before the court, they offered Uluntu Crèche a five-year lease agreement at a rental of R10 a month with an option for a further five years.
"This is a property which is zoned commercial, which we wish to develop in order to make facilities available to the broader Gugulethu community. The only reason that the crèche is not part of it is their failure to accept any of our generous offers,“ said 255 Gugulethu (Pty) Ltd.