Evicted families given a breather

By Quinton Mtyala Time of article published Sep 8, 2016

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AFTER her officials and the DA’s Woodstock ward councillor insisted it was “a private matter,” mayor Patricia de Lille won a reprieve for the Bromwell Street tenants who faced eviction from their homes today.

The Woodstock Hub, which purchased five attached cottages in Bromwell Street three years ago, had earlier insisted that 28 residents, including Brenda Smith, 75, would have to find alternative accommodation after the company was granted an eviction order by the Western Cape High Court in July.

The Woodstock Hub planned to convert the cottages into upmarket rented accommodation, hoping to attract tenants drawn to the area by gentrification, which has seen the once run down working-class suburb, which used to house factories in warehouses, now filled with coffee shops, bicycle lanes and antique shops.

De Lille’s spokesperson, Pierrinne Leukes, said they had appealed to the Woodstock Hub’s Jacques van Embden not to execute the eviction.

“They have agreed not to execute the eviction order until September 26.

"We are working with all the concerned parties, including Ndifuna Ukwazi in order to find an amicable solution,” said Leukes.

In a separate statement, the Woodstock Hub confirmed it would give residents until September 26 to find new accommodation.

Earlier, the Woodstock Hub announced that it had started a crowdfund, contributing R50 000, which would help those being evicted to find alternative accommodation but residents said the money would not be enough.

In a statement the company said: “The Woodstock Hub is hopeful, that over and above the extensions already granted, the stay on the eviction order will allow the occupants additional time to make use of the funds that have been raised in order to find suitable alternative accommodation to ensure the safety and security of the families involved.

“This undertaking was given by the Woodstock Hub as a last and final extension and does not detract from the order confirming that the occupants are in unlawful occupation of the property, and it is made clear that the undertaking to stay the eviction will not extend beyond Monday, September 26, 2016,” the statement read.

Charnelle Commando, one of the residents delegated to speak to the media, said they were grateful for De Lille’s intervention and the reprieve.

“We are grateful to the Woodstock Hub for coming forward, along with the City for the extension. It's a relief that we won't be sleeping on the streets with our children,” said Commando.

During the meeting with De Lille the City made a proposal to residents about alternative accommodation but Commando said nothing had yet been agreed with all the tenants.

Asked whether these alternatives included settlements at Blikkiesdorp, Commando said “no”.

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