Bromwell residents refuse to be ‘priced out’

Brenda Smith, 76, stands in protest against the eviction outside the Cape Town High Court yesterday.

Woodstock residents were given a slight reprieve in the Western Cape High Court yesterday, Wednesday November 9, when judge Leslie Weinkoue granted a postponement until January 31 next year in the case involving the eviction of 43 adults and 17 children from a row of houses in Bromwell Street.

The postponement was granted to ensure the families were given sufficient time to apply for and access temporary alternative accommodation.

Bromwell Street residents are being represented by Ndifuna Ukwazi Law Centre and have made many court appearances since they were served with an eviction order on September 9 2013.

In 2013, the Woodstock Hub bought several homes in Bromwell Street and later secured eviction orders to remove the residents.

Advocate Sheldon Magardie, who represented the residents, argued that to date eight of the nine families had applied to Communicare for subsidised rental accommodation. He said the application process had not been finalised and asked the court to give the residents more time.

In a statement, Ndifuna Ukwazi spokesman Daneel Knoetze refuted mayor Patricia de Lille’s claims that the City was not obliged to provide temporary alternative accommodation for the Bromwell Street families.

Mr Knoetze said this contradicted several Constitutional Court and Supreme Court of Appeal decisions on a municipality’s obligations. Mr Knoetze said the city was in the midst of a housing and segregation crisis.

“No state-funded inner city affordable housing has been built since the end of apartheid. The state continues to sell off prime land, suitable for housing delivery, to private sector property developers. Poor black African and coloured families continue to be priced out, evicted and removed from Woodstock and other inner city neighbourhoods,” he said.

Several of the families as well as their supporters protested outside of the court on Wednesday November 9. The oldest resident who faces eviction, Brenda Smith, 76, was at court and told the Tatler she had been born at 128 Bromwell Street, which she now shares with her three daughters and son.

A somewhat frail Ms Smith said she had been offered a house in Delft but did not want to stay alone, as her children would be unable to move with her.

At the weekend, Ms Smith and many of the residents paid a visit to Wolwerivier near Melkbosstrand, where the City has offered to accommodate them some 35km north of the city centre.

Bromwell Street resident Graham Beukes was appalled at the living conditions and lack of facilities and amenities in Wolwerivier.

“The City cannot expect us to live there. There are no schools, clinics or transport. It’s like going back in time. Taking my children there really confused them because we saw youth sitting on corners using drugs,” he said.

“Those who are unemployed are being offered housing in Wolwerivier and others are being given the opportunity to access social and gap housing,” he said.

Ms Smith said she was not ungrateful for the housing opportunity in Wolwerivier but argued that it was too far out. “My daughters cannot stay there with there children because it’s unsafe,” she said. The Tatler contacted the City on Monday September 7 for comment and Ms De Lille’s spokeswoman Pierrinne Leukes

said: “This matter is currently before the courts this week. Details will be provided then.”