Uniting against evictions

Beryl Schouw of Steevilla in Steenberg gave an emotional speech.

Residents threatened with eviction across the city, including Wynberg and Plumstead, met at Trafalgar High School in District Six on Tuesday to have their frustrations heard.

The ANC’s provincial head of elections Ebrahim Rasool had promised to attend but never did. After waiting more than an hour for him to arrive, the meeting started without him.

Some people were angry, others encouraged people to vote for the ANC saying the DA-run City had failed them.

This meeting was a follow-up to one held at Ragmaniyeh Primary School in Zonnebloem on Wednesday March 27, when Mr Rasool had promised to help find solutions to the evictions.

The more than 80 people in the school hall on Tuesday had been hoping to hear about those solutions. Earlier meetings on the issue had been organised by the South Road Family Association in Plumstead and Wynberg about two weeks ago. Those meetings had been attended by residents from Steenvilla in Steenberg, De Waal Drive flats in Zonnebloem and Naruna Estate in Plumstead.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the association’s chairman, Clive Muller, said residents from Rugby and Ruyterwacht had also joined the anti-eviction struggle.

Mr Muller said 26 South Road families were facing eviction because their homes needed to be demolished to make way for Phase 2 of the R800m MyCiTi bus route.

But the families have vowed not to move without a fight (“Victory for City in MyCiTi route battle,” February 16, 2017), even after losing a court case against the City.

Mr Muller said South Road, De Waal Drive and Naruna Estate residents had been issued with “unexplainable” amended three-year leases.

Prior to the meeting, he said he hoped Mr Rasool would have answers for them, as he did not want to see violent protests like those that had happened in Hermanus, Sir Lowry’s Pass Village and other areas.

“When citizens are not given a chance to talk, it can erupt in violence,” he said.

Beryl Schouw, of Steenvillas in Steenberg, said 36 families had been evicted mid-winter and that families in 160 units were about to be evicted because they were in arrears.

She said 108 of them were due to appear in the Western Cape High Court on Monday April 15 to appeal the decision.

She claimed subsidies had been taken out in their names and that they were being overcharged for rent.

“These people were backyard dwellers, some with amputated arms, legs, others suffering cancer, retrenched or from broken marriages. My rent was R1 900 in 2010; now it’s R5 000. We are being exploited,” she said.

Mohammed Bester, of Southfield and the Eden Safety and Security Neighbourhood Watch, said residents opposed MyCiTi plans for the area as there had been no public participation process with the community.

Rashied Dawood, speaking on behalf of the Two Oceans Taxi Association and SA National Taxi Council (SANTACO), said: “MyCiTi might be better, but it can never be as quick as taxis which drop people off at any place, and MyCiTi is running at a loss.”

Karen Saligee, of Naruna Estate, questioned the new three-year leases they had been issued. What would happen to those who couldn’t afford the rent after three years, she asked.

Mandisa Zamile, of Ruyterwacht, said residents had been told their rent was market related. “But why are so many units vacant? Because people can’t afford the rental. We came here hoping for direction. We don’t know where we’ll be tomorrow and if we’ll have a place to stay. We can’t afford legal help.”

Sylvia Rossouw, in tears, described how she cared for the elderly in Ruyterwacht. A widow, she has lived there for 21 years and pays R4 500 rent.

They had been told they could buy their houses after five years but that had never happened, she said. They had been told they would be given the title deeds after 10 years, but that also hadn’t happened.

Now they were being told they were in arrears. And every month lawyers’ fees were
added.

She said they did not want to be sent to Blikkiesdorp. “How can we live there and bring up our daughters when there are rapes, robberies and murders every day,” she cried.

Annike Lambert, of Steenberg Housing Action Group, said people could not pay their rent because water costs were too high.

She said she was unemployed and could not find a job. She asked what the City was doing with extra revenue from the higher water tariffs.