Porter evictions loom

Seven of the 12 residents on the former Porter Reform School land. They are, from left, Herman, Wilson, Jakobus Meyer, Hendrik Lanklaas, Sylvia Koornaar with her 20-month-old daughter Chloe, Sara Stock and Marie Mostert.

Eviction is imminent for the 12 remaining residents on the former Porter Reform School land – two of whom are children under the age of five.

The Department of Transport and Public Works says it is trying to help the residents find somewhere else to stay, but claims it was unaware that two children – who would be protected under the Prevention of Illegal Eviction (PIE) Act of 1997 – are living on the property, which is owned by the Department of Public Works and Transport.

The residents received an eviction notice from the Office of the State Attorney on Monday August 15. It said: “We act on behalf of our clients, the Premier of the Western Cape and the MEC for Transport and Public Works.”

The letter went on to detail how in 2014 an eviction order had been granted (“Eviction a thorny issue,” Bulletin, December 18, 2014).

Brothers Desmond and Richard Flandorp, who are the managers of Flandorp Gardening Supplies, an informal horticultural enterprise running from the site, and acting as the representatives of the residents, challenged the eviction in court.

“We advise that your subsequent application to the Western Cape High Court to stay the warrant of ejectment issued by the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court was dismissed,” says the eviction notice, adding that the Supreme Court of Appeal had also dimissed residents’ leave to appeal.

The letter gives them until Monday August 29 to vacate or be forcibly removed.

Richard Flandorp said they would not be challenging the decision in the Constitutional Court because he could not afford it.

“I paid the laywers over R200 000, but they say they undercharged me,” he said, adding the communication between the attorneys and him had dried up.

“It will cost me R250 000 just to start over with new lawyers. So we’re moving out. I’m trying to find a place to rent for them (the tenants).”

According to the Flandorps, their father had an informal agreement, dating back to 1993, with the former principal of the Cape Academy of Maths, Science and Technology .

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They took over the agreement after their father died. The brothers run the business, which sells roses in the summer and topsoil and compost in winter, from the premises and employ 10 live-in employees on the land.

When the Bulletin spoke to the employees last week, Mark Adams said some of them had been living there for more than 20 years. Most of them had no family and nowhere else to go.

The makeshift homes, which consist of wooden houses and old caravans or trucks, are clustered together behind the derelict walls of what was a reform school for boys until the 1980s.

The small patches of land separating the homes are dotted with vegetable gardens. An air of dejection was broken only by the oblivious giggles of 20-month-old Chloe Koornaar. Chloe and her four-year-old brother, Cody, are the only two children on the property.

According to the PIE act, “Special consideration should be given to the rights of the elderly, children, disabled persons and particularly households headed by women, and that it should be recognised that the needs of those groups should be considered.”

Department of Transport and Public Works spokesman Byron Lahoe said the department had tried on “numerous occasions” to enter into a lease agreement with Mr Flandorp before the eviction notices were issued.

“We could not reach an agreement with him on the market-related rental. Our policy doesn’t allow us to go below the market-related rental. We have to emphasise the fairness with which the department has handled this matter.”

Asked what provision had been made for the children living on the property, Mr Lahoe at first said: “The department is not aware of any children living on the property. The affidavits provided by Mr Flandorp did not mention children living on the property.”

When the Bulletin persisted in asking how the children would be protected, Mr Lahoe answered: “As previously mentioned, our officials did not receive the required co-operation from Mr Flandorp during this process. We will engage relevant roleplayers such as the City of Cape Town in an attempt to assist the residents who will be evicted from the property to find alternative accommodation.”