Acting judge questions viability of Wolverivier

The 27 Bromwell Street families facing eviction returned to Western Cape High Court last week, where acting Judge Mark Sher said it would be a pity if they were sent to Wolwerivier. The residents want the City of Cape Town to provide them with emergency housing near to where they live and not send them to the far-flung relocation camp.

Judge Sher said the Bromwell Street residents would unlikely be able to return to Woodstock should they be moved to Wolwerivier as the camp’s residents seemed to be staying there permanently.

He also questioned whether there were schools, shops, jobs, or health facilities at Wolwerivier.

The Bromwell Street residents have faced eviction since 2015 after property developers bought their homes.

The City offered the residents a place in Wolwerivier, about 25km north of the city centre, but the residents want to stay close where they live and work.

Judge Sher said he was exploring alternatives to the Wolverivier option and recommended a mediation process outside of court between the residents, the City and the developers.

He said the developers could possibly consider funding alternative accommodation for the residents, which would be in line with the losses they were experiencing due to the delay in their development.

Attorney for Ndifuna Ukwazi Law Centre, Disha Govender, who is representing the Bromwell Street residents, said the court had raised questions concerning the recent statements made by mayor Patricia de Lille and mayoral committee member of transport and urban develoipment Brett Herron regarding the change in the City’s policy of providing housing on the urban fringe.

“The matter was postponed further for the filing of further affidavits regarding the City’s recent press statements. Acting Judge Sher demonstrated his knowledge of the court papers and relevant case law and the residents felt that he had conducted himself in a fair manner,” said Ms Govender.

Bromwell Street resident representative Charnell Commando said that residents were happy with the questions the judge was asking in court, but they were still sceptical about the outcome of the case, as the City had not come back to residents with anything positive.

“The City print one thing in the newspapers and says another thing in court. One week they want to end apartheid spatial planning, the next week they want to send us to Wolwerivier.”

The City’s lawyer, Advocate Karrisha Pillay, said the municipality had no available emergency housing developments within the city centre due to a lack of land.

The City had prioritised permanent social housing in the city centre, as opposed to temporary emergency housing.