The unlawful occupation of an upmarket Camps Bay Airbnb by a group of seven activists came to an end on Thursday, October 8.
The queer collective #WeSeeYou began their protracted stay nearly three weeks ago. The group rented a luxury home and paid for three days, from September 18, before signalling their intent to remain in the home as an act of protest. They wished to emphasise the lack of safe spaces in society for queer people, women and children.
Last week, the Western Cape High court ordered the group to vacate the property by Thursday, 8 October after the property management company, Turnkey365 took them to court.
During the court proceedings, the activists said that they would be homeless if they were evicted immediately. Initial reports said that alternative shelter in Phillipi could be made available for the group if they met the minimum requirements.
However, Mayco member for human settlements Malusi Booi told the Cape Argus that the court approached the City but “[t]here was insufficient time for this process to commence and be finalised, hence no formal assessment process was instituted and there is no formal obligation on the City to provide assistance.”
As they were leaving the house, Kelly-Lee Koopman, one of the occupiers, told people gathered outside that the group had opted not to stay at the site in Phillippi due to safety concerns, according to News24.
Xena Scullard, another occupant, questioned why safe spaces [for the homeless] were not built closer to the CBD and affluent areas, and said that no one should be homeless or pushed to the fringes of society, according to EWN.
“Why are shelters not being built in the CBD close in proximity to social amenities like work, hospitals, and good schools? And that is what we are essentially pointing a finger at,” said Scullard.
Another occupant of the house, Lethabo Hanong, stressed that queer people need safe spaces because they are subjected to murder and hate crimes like “corrective rape”.
She told the SABC: “I came here because I’m a queer person. I’m a transgender person and I want to fight for the rights of queer people who don’t have a place to go, a shelter to go and don’t feel safe in their areas.”
The #WeSeeYou collective has managed to secure short-term accommodation and their search for safe longer-term residence continues.
Their legal troubles are far from over. Milton De La Harpe, the attorney of property managers, told the SABC that a charge of fraud is being investigated as the group occupied the property under false pretenses and that the group is liable for all legal costs incurred.
“The cost order is costs on an attorney and own client scale. It means that all the costs that my client has incurred for legal representation must now be paid by the respondents.”
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