Legal action sought to evict Camps Bay mansion occupiers

By Chelsea Geach, Keagan Mitchell Time of article published Sep 26, 2020

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A CASE of fraud and trespassing has been opened against a collective of artists and activists who have taken occupation of a property in Camps Bay.

The We See You collective moved into the Atlantic Seaboard mansion on Monday under the guise of a rental booking, and then announced their occupation as a protest against the lack of safe spaces for queer people, women and children in South Africa, as well as inequitable land ownership.

The property agent managing the rental mansion originally gave the group until Thursday to vacate the premises, and yesterday announced that they were instituting legal action.

“Following the refusal of a group of guests to vacate a property under our management in Camps Bay, we have instituted both legal and civil proceedings to achieve an eviction and recoup all costs incurred,” said Gaby van Wyk, Managing Director of Turnkey365.

“We sympathise with their cause and support the right to protest within the confines of the law. We intend to fulfil our mandate and protect the legal rights of the homeowner. Equally we intend to uphold the legal rights of our small business as well as those of our colleagues across the tourism industry as we struggle to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Saps spokeswoman Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana confirmed that a case had been opened at Camps Bay police station on Heritage Day.

“No-one has been arrested or evicted by Saps Camps Bay at this stage; the investigation is ongoing,” she said.

We See You spokesperson, author and activist Kelly-Eve Koopman, said they were not aware of any charges.

“While complaints were brought to us, we have not received any charges yet.”

Earlier this week, the collective posted on Facebook calling for support from people who identify with their cause, in anticipation of possible clashes with police.

“The rental company that manages the mansion we are occupying has threatened to involve the police despite the fact that evictions are currently still illegal,” they wrote.

“We know first-hand how the police have responded to us as protesters and to us as occupiers in the past. The police protect private property over people. We must change the current perception of occupiers that invites violence on people simply in need of homes.”

A spokesperson for the group, Xena Ness, reportedly explained they were aiming to draw attention to with the occupation.

“We are not attacking private ownership. We are not saying people can’t own private property. What we are calling into question is what this private ownership looks like. Who it excludes, who it oppresses, and who it doesn’t,” Ness said.

“Our goal is highlighting the historical imperatives of this land, and there are many other areas, like Constantia, particularly in the Western Cape. There is the legacy of colonisation, apartheid, and even now, where people are still being displaced from the land.”

Koopman explained her personal motivation for occupying the mansion on Monday when the collective first took occupancy.

“I am currently occupying a mansion with a group of powerful black and POC artivists from a range of backgrounds. So yes as of today I’d be described as a so-called ‘land invader’,” Koopman wrote in a post that was shared by the We See You collective. “I’m scared, but as an artist and activist I feel this is what I need to do.

“I cannot co-exist alongside a system so unjust, so violent a country and city that has so devastatingly neglected the dignity, safety and wellbeing of this system.

“I believe queer people and womxn, families and children deserve safe and beautiful spaces to live. We cannot heal without our land.We have enough land, we have enough infrastructure.

“I believe that systemic disruption and intervention is imperative.”

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