Bromwell judge recusal brings new hope

Bromwell Street residents and Albert Street residents with their banners protesting their eviction on the Basil van Rensberg pedestrian bridge in Woodstock on Tuesday July 11.

After hearing the news that acting Judge Leslie Weinkove who presided over the Bromwell Street eviction case had recused himself on Wednesday July 5, Bromwell Street residents and others facing eviction felt their fight against the evictions had been bolstered.

The judge who was accused of being insensitive and biased towards the poor and working class residents of Bromwell Street advised that he had decided to recuse himself despite a new issue being raised by the residents regarding non-compliance with the environmental authorisation for the proposed relocation site.

Residents who heard the news shared their joy on social media and on Tuesday July 11, they stood with placards on the Basil van Rensberg pedestrian bridge in Woodstock to raise awareness about evictions in the area and show support for those in Albert Road also facing eviction.

The sense of camaraderie was tangible as residents lined the bridge with their signs, which read “we refuse to go”, “stop gentrification now” and “land for people, not for profit”.

Charnell Commando, who led the charge against the judge, said the recusal had brought renewed hope to residents.

“It is such a relief,” she said. “The residents are very happy that he is stepping aside. We’re hoping for a better trial.

“It’s not only us going through these evictions.

“It’s happening all over and it’s not nice to see. What the judge said, hurt us.”

“We hope that the new judge will see the story from both sides. The struggle continues and we hope people will continue to stand up. We don’t want to go to Wolwerivier,” said Ms Commando.

The hearings into the future of 27 Bromwell Street residents who face eviction will start afresh as a new judge steps in, in September.

The residents, however, are still pursuing their complaint lodged with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) against the conduct of Acting Judge Weinkove which they believe violated their right to dignity and breached the code of ethics required of judges.

Acting Judge Weinkove was accused of making a number of degrading comments, which included insinuating that unemployed people did not need to be close to opportunities and dismissing evidence brought forward by a resident stating that she was “just a kitchen assistant”.

The Bromwell Street residents are seeking an order declaring that the City had a constitutional obligation to provide them with emergency accommodation in an area as close as is feasibly possible to their homes.

The City argues that Wolwerivier is the only place available for evictees.

Acting Judge Mark Sher will now preside and the matter will be argued afresh in September.