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Zille, De Lille defend eviction decisions

FAR AWAY: Families encamped at Wolwerivier, about 28km from Cape Town, find it hard to adjust to the area, more than 18 months after being settled there. Picture: Armand Hough

FAR AWAY: Families encamped at Wolwerivier, about 28km from Cape Town, find it hard to adjust to the area, more than 18 months after being settled there. Picture: Armand Hough

Published Apr 25, 2017

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Cape Town - Premier Helen Zille and mayor Patricia de Lille have seemingly dug in their heels concerning two of their biggest housing headaches: the Tafelberg site saga and the Bromwell Street eviction matter, respectively.

Zille has for the umpteenth time this week defended a final decision by the provincial executive to sell the multi-million rand Tafelberg property, which became a thorny issue after Reclaim the City (RTC) activists took the matter to court, prompting a public participation process.

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In the Bromwell Street case, De Lille had made it clear the evicted families were “not entitled to temporary emergency housing at a location of their choice”.

Zille said: “Whenever the Western Cape cabinet considers disposing of land, we consider all government’s competing priorities and challenges, and weigh up possible uses on a case-by-case basis.

“Thus, on the same day that we announced that the sale of Tafelberg would proceed, we also announced our plans for the development of affordable housing on two other high value sites in the city – a former nurses’ home near the Waterfront; and the old Woodstock Hospital site,” Zille said in her latest newsletter, which was in response to criticism levelled at her by Reclaim the City.

The premier added that provincial government had been making “good progress” with plans to develop the old Conradie Hospital site in Pinelands, which was expected to accommodate about 11000 residents. “So why is RTC obsessed with the small developable portion of the Tafelberg site?” Zille asked.

“If well-located land for affordable housing were really the issue here, surely RTC would be focusing on much larger sites, such as Culemborg, owned by Transnet? This site is almost 50 times the size of Tafelberg, and development there would add enormous value to the city, while providing a large number of affordable housing units,” Zille said.

Meanwhile, De Lille said “outrage and media coverage did not warrant special treatment” for the Bromwell Street evictees. “Their court eviction order stated that this was a private eviction, and the city had no obligation to provide alternative accommodation. As the government for all people in Cape Town, it is incumbent on us to ensure parity and fairness in the provision of housing assistance to those who qualify, and are on our housing needs database. It would be unfair to allow some people to jump the queue,” De Lille said.

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The mayor said allowing the residents choice of locations would “disadvantage those waiting on our housing list”.

“Wolwerivier was determined to be suitable because it is in the fast-growing West Coast corridor, which will see the expansion of future opportunities.

“It is being developed with the intention of being upgraded on an incremental basis to enable the long-term possibility of land transfer to beneficiaries, should they not have taken up an alternative housing opportunity,” De Lille said. 

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