Alarm as eviction cases spiral and clog up Cape courts
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Cape Town - Local courts are being inundated
with eviction cases, mainly from
Woodstock, Salt River and Maitland, as
developers, eager to get rid of tenants
who have lived in houses for generations, want to build expensive flats.
According to data collected by information and research centre Open Up, between April and July, 69 eviction cases were heard in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court alone.
Open Up community researcher and co-ordinator Deena Bosch said many people faced evictions, but the Constitution stated that no one could be evicted when it left them homeless.
The data also showed that 45 of the 69 respondents attended court proceedings and 27 had legal representation.
Bosch said that they couldn’t say how many families were affected by the evictions because their court monitoring was not yet that extensive.
“Residents are mainly being evicted because rent is rocketing and developers are moving in. Surely the City should be aware of this because they are constitutionally required to provide proper alternative housing for residents,” she said.
According to Reclaim the City, the council provides residents with emergency kits, leaving them to build their own homes.
“That is what the City is offering in the majority of cases. It’s concerning that this is going on, and the fact the city is leaving people without proper emergency accommodation is alarming,” she said.
According to the City, as of June 30, there were an estimated 1381400 households in Cape Town, with 12.2% of them dwellings in informal settlements and 6.35% informal dwellings in backyards.
But it was last month’s eviction of an 80-year-old Woodstock man and his family, who had been living in their home for 40 years, that irked activists.
Reclaim the City Woodstock chapter leader Faghmeeda Ling said: “This does not come as a surprise to me and am sure there will be more cases like this.
“The issue is that the City is failing to provide proper alternative accommodation to residents who are at risk of being homeless.”
In February, the city announced that R2.1billion was budgeted for the development of new housing opportunities over the medium term, with R590million budgeted for the current financial year.
These housing projects are situated in Nyanga, Atlantis, Heideveld, Fisantekraal, Grassy Park, Somerset West, Scottsdene, Hangberg, Durbanville, Bardale, Belhar and Delft, among others.
“All that we have seen over the past few months is promises and more promises, but they have failed to deliver.
“The City has been dragging its feet with providing proper, affordable accommodation,” Ling said.
Mayor Dan Plato said there were no quick fixes in providing alternative accommodation and rubbished claims made by activists.
“The court compels the City to provide alternative accommodation, but the big problem we are facing is that we don’t have alternative accommodation immediately available because we don’t have empty houses available,” he said.