Western Cape Rental Housing Tribunal under fire after illegal eviction
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Cape Town - Communicare tenant beneficiaries have disputed an announcement by the provincial human settlements department about the efficiency of the Western Cape Rental Housing Tribunal in reducing the number of active or open Communicare complaints.
Human Settlements MEC Tertius Simmers said in a statement: “The Western Cape rental housing tribunal has helped to reduce the number of active or open Communicare complaints from 775 to 164 since 2018.”
His statement comes at the same time that a 34-year old Brooklyn woman and her 2-year-old child were forced to sleep outside on Tuesday night after they were evicted from a house owned by Communicare without an eviction order.
Zuzeka Appolis said that more than 10 Servest security officers stormed the house, threw her furniture outside and occupied the house all night.
"I was a Communicare tenant in Dromedaries while I was working but got sick and lost my job last year. I applied for rent reduction and provided proof that I was getting a disability grant, but it was declined and I was evicted.
“When I occupied a house on Friday I wasn't aware that it belonged to Communicare. The security company came on Sunday and Monday to intimidate me and finally evicted me last night.This is traumatising, especially having to be evicted twice within a year," said Appolis.
Communicare spokesperson Megan Lennert said that they received notification that there were suspicious movements around the property and on further investigation, found that three armed males and one female had broken into the property.
She said Communicare had opened a break-in and trespassing case and subsequently advised the trespassers to leave the premises and alerted the police that they would be removing them.
“There seems to be a concerted campaign to illegally occupy our buildings in the area, and this is just one of the incidents,” she said.
Maitland station commander Sizwe Mpindwa said Communicare opened a case on Monday and the docket was sent to court on Tuesday.
“According to court, the complainant must obtain an eviction order before carrying out the eviction. For the security company to come here at night and evict the occupant was against the law and they were in contempt of court,” he said.
In the statement Simmers refers to the litany of complaints against Communicare. “Of the 164 open cases, 130 will be finalised through hearings, while the remaining 34 are currently under investigation,” he said.
“Those seeking to lodge further complaints can now also use the very first tribunal web and mobile app solution, which forms part of the province’s e-service portal. Citizens can also track a complaint online. These initiatives are demonstrating our commitment to being innovative and using technology optimally,” said Simmers
Commenting on Simmers’ statement Communicare tenant beneficiaries spokesperson Neville Petersen said: “The statement issued by MEC Tertius Simmers is misleading as his intention is to manipulate his political score card for self interest.
“Simmers failed to report on how many Communicare beneficiaries lost their cases, how many mediation processes failed and how many cases were dismissed without a hearing or mediation as this data will reflect the true under performance of the tribunal.
“Further, Simmers failed to report why the tribunal took more than two years to resolve the complaints of Communicare tenant beneficiaries who lodged these complaints in 2018, and yet in his own words, the tribunal is legislated to finalise matters within 90 days,” said Petersen.