Families living in a block of apartments in Albert Road, Woodstock, have been given eight months to vacate the property or they will be removed forcefully due to Cape Town Magistrate Paul Jethro’s ruling on 10 July.
Resident Faghmeeda Desiree Ling says she has lived in Albert Road her whole life and now has to move because she cannot afford the high rental in Woodstock or its surrounding areas.
Ling is among the 82 people, aged between eight months and 75-years-old, ordered to vacate the property by 9 March 2019 – by Cape Town Magistrate Paul Jethro’s ruling on 10 July. They were originally served with eviction notices in March and April 2017, to vacate their homes by the end of May 2017 for not paying rent.
Occupants accused the landlord, Ahmed Patel, of neglecting to maintain the property after it was badly damaged in two fire incidents. The landlord’s lawyer, Ahmed Ebrahim, has disputed the tenants’ claims.
The City of Cape Town was requested to assist with providing emergency housing for the group. The City offered to house the families at its Wolwerivier Temporary Relocation Area, but the residents have repeatedly refused to move there.
Magistrate Jethro acknowledged that one of the key factors in this eviction was the gentrification of Woodstock. “The [families] have been living in the Woodstock area for decades and have formed a community within a community. Woodstock is undergoing a process of ‘gentrification’ whereby poorer members of the community are evicted and forced from the area in order to make room for the middle- to upper-class.”
Most of the Albert Road occupants fall within the lower-income bracket. The highest monthly household income among them is about R8,000. Jethro said that if the occupants failed to vacate by 9 March, the Sheriff would be sent on 12 March 2019 to forcefully evict them.
He ordered the legal representatives of the City and the residents to assist the families to apply for social housing. These applications should be submitted no later than 9 August, he said.
The court also ruled that the residents had no right or entitlement to alternative accomodation (offered by the City) at a location of their choice.
Resident Faghmeeda Desiree Ling said, “I was overwhelmed with emotions. I cried for a while and now I worry a lot. Every night I lay in bed and worry about where the heck I will go with my children. I understand that we have to go but don’t throw me to the gutters in Wolwerivier. We are just asking for simple, decent housing.”
Ling has been on the City housing waiting list since 2004. She is a single parent of three and relies on her salary as a Grade R teacher to make ends meet.
While Jethro granted the eviction order, his ruling makes it clear that the City needed to do more to “improve the lot of the poor especially in the domain of housing”.
Picture: Twitter, GroundUp