Bromwell residents head to Concourt

Published Feb 27, 2024


The City of Cape Town is accused of replicating apartheid era spatial planning by relocating the poor far from the city.

The Constitutional Court on Tuesday heard submissions on the constitutionality of the City of Cape Town’s policy of not providing temporary emergency accommodation to Bromwell Street residents in the inner city.

The application was brought by the residents of Bromwell Street who are represented by Ndifuna Ukwazi (NU).

Abahlali base Mjondolo (Abahlali) have been admitted as amicus curiae (friend of the court) and are represented by the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI).

The applicants in the matter, who have lived for generations in row cottages in Bromwell Street, Salt River, approached the Constitutional Court to appeal a decision of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) delivered in February last year.

NU said: “The decision permitted the City of Cape Town to evict the Bromwell Street families and relocate them to informal settlements, such as Wolwerivier, which are located far away from the city centre. The SCA decision overturned the Western Cape High Court decision of 6 September 2021, which found that the City of Cape Town’s Housing Programme was arbitrary and unlawful, and ordered the City to provide the applicants with temporary emergency accommodation in Woodstock, Salt River or in the inner city precinct.

“The key issue before the Constitutional Court is the constitutionality of the City’s housing policy not to provide temporary emergency accommodation in the inner city of Cape Town. This is a matter of great importance in circumstances where large metropolitan municipalities seem to be implementing policies that resemble apartheid spatial planning in a democratic South Africa. Municipalities cannot replicate apartheid era displacement of poor residents to the outskirts of city centres. The matter therefore holds significance not only for the Bromwell Street residents but for South Africa as a whole, and the protection and advancement of our Constitutional ethos.”

Abahlali said the central issue before the Court was the location of alternative accommodation provided after an eviction.

“Abahlali baseMjondolo has been admitted as a friend of the court and, represented by SERI, will ask the Constitutional Court to rule that the Bromwell Street residents must be housed in the Cape Town city centre where they have always lived.

“The oppressed will continue to suffer for as long as land and housing are commodified. For as long as the social value of land and housing comes after their commercial value, and for as long as profit is placed before people, the poor and the working class will continue to be forced out of the cities by capital. Thirty years after apartheid we still see the same old logic of apartheid oppressing the residents of Bromwell Street, who are facing forced removal to the human dumping grounds far from the city centre.”

Cape Times