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Woodstock shelter, Cissie Gool House, raided just days after its devastating fire

Early on Monday morning, City of Cape Town Law Enforcement, Cape Town Metropolitan Police, and SAPS conducted a raid at Cissie Gool House (CGH) formerly known as the old Woodstock Hospital. Picture: CGH

Early on Monday morning, City of Cape Town Law Enforcement, Cape Town Metropolitan Police, and SAPS conducted a raid at Cissie Gool House (CGH) formerly known as the old Woodstock Hospital. Picture: CGH

Published Feb 1, 2022

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Cape Town - Just a few days after a fire ravaged Cissie Gool House (CGH), the old Woodstock Hospital, which left many of its occupants displaced and distraught, the shelter was the target of a joint crime operation and raid yesterday morning with law enforcement and immigration officials breaking their doors down.

CGH house leader Bevil Lucas said the occupants were awoken up to sniffing dogs, masses of police officers, police vehicles and even a helicopter surrounding the property to carry out a search warrant.

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“The disruptive and deeply traumatic raid was conducted at around 6am while many of the residents were preparing for the day ahead, making breakfast, getting dressed for work, or children getting ready for school,” said Ndifuna Ukwazi.

Metro police chief Wayne le Roux said: “There was an integrated operation with metro police, Immigration, SAPS and Law Enforcement to execute a search warrant at the location. The operation had been in planning since before the fire occurred.”

Le Roux said the operation was the result of a warrant being granted to search the premises amid ongoing complaints of alleged illegal drug activity/dealing, illegal firearm activity, shootings and extortion taking place at the site.

The officers arrested two individuals upon the discovery of drugs in their possession and immigration services also found undocumented persons on the premises.

Lucas said: “One extremely horrific immigration-related arrest was a young mother that was still breastfeeding her baby and they (law enforcement) would not allow her to take her baby. Now the father has to take the baby down to the police cells for feeding.”

GOOD secretary-general Brett Herron said the fire at CGH was a reminder of the devastating impact of the City’s irrational decision to cancel the affordable housing project that would have seen at least 700 social housing units developed there.

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Ndifuna Ukwazi said it was important to note that the City and CGH were currently engaged in a legal process whereby the City sought to evict the CGH occupiers. However, before the intended eviction process could commence, the court ordered that the parties conduct a survey to determine the housing needs and rights of the occupiers towards finding alternative accommodation for those who live there and begin work on converting the building into social housing.

The City was expected to file its report on its survey of the CGH residents during the month of February, with the matter expected to return to court around April 2022.

CGH House leader Fagmeeda Ling said they suspected this raid was undertaken because of their upcoming eviction case as part of the City’s efforts to find problems to use against them in the court of law.

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Lucas said it was clear that law enforcement were targeting the CGH community because this was the third raid within just three years.

With 1 000 people living at the site and only two people arrested for drug activity, Lucas said the operation that was undertaken was unnecessarily extreme.

Early on Monday morning, City of Cape Town Law Enforcement, Cape Town Metropolitan Police, and SAPS conducted a raid at Cissie Gool House (CGH) formerly known as the old Woodstock Hospital. Picture: CGH
Early on Monday morning, City of Cape Town Law Enforcement, Cape Town Metropolitan Police, and SAPS conducted a raid at Cissie Gool House (CGH) formerly known as the old Woodstock Hospital. Picture: CGH
Early on Monday morning, City of Cape Town Law Enforcement, Cape Town Metropolitan Police, and SAPS conducted a raid at Cissie Gool House (CGH) formerly known as the old Woodstock Hospital. Picture: CGH

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