This morning, Thursday September 15, residents of Bromwell Street in Woodstock responded to a statement put out by Mayor Patricia de Lille on impending evictions in the area later this month.
“A week ago, we thanked Mayor Patricia de Lille after she paid a visit to us at our homes in Bromwell Street. The mayor showed concern over the imminent evictions which will leave us homeless. She committed to help find a solution. Through the mayor’s intervention, the Woodstock Hub agreed to postpone the eviction until 26 September 2016,” they said in a statement issued to the Tatler.
“A postponement means nothing, however, if the evictions will still leave us homeless. We thanked the mayor because she said that she would help us. She said that the City would look into the possibility of providing us with temporary alternative accommodation in the Woodstock area. Specifically, we asked about a piece of City owned land on Bromwell Street. The mayor responded that she would look into the possibility of providing ‘containers’, on that or other city land, so that we may have a place to stay.”
They said they had since learnt that the City had a Constitutional obligation to provide temporary alternative accommodation for evicted people, in or as near as possible to the area from which they are evicted.
“This obligation was confirmed by a Constitutional Court judgment in 2011, in City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality v Blue Moonlight Properties.
Today, we have to conclude that the mayor has not meaningfully considered the possibility of providing temporary alternative accommodation for the Bromwell Street families, in Woodstock.
They said in Ms de Lille’s press statement of September 12, she made no mention of her commitment to look into that possibility.
“Instead, she encouraged us to apply for the Social Housing developments planned for Woodstock. She spoke about the housing database, and implied that helping us with housing would amount to ‘queue jumping’. This is not true.
“Temporary alternative accommodation, in an emergency situation, is not the same as Social Housing or housing accessed through the database. We have no intention of jumping the housing queue, we simply want the mayor to fulfill her promise and obligation.”
In her statement, Ms De Lille said the City was not ordered to provide alternative accommodation.
“The court found it to be a fair and equitable eviction and the order stands. I intervened in the hopes of mediating between the owners and the tenants and finding an amicable solution respecting the rights of all the parties involved,” she said.
I subsequently engaged with the owners of the property (the Woodstock Hub) who kindly agreed to stay the eviction, over and above the existing extensions already granted. The families are now required to vacate the property on 26 September 2016.”
She added the City’s allocation policy stipulated that it deal with applications on an individual basis.
“We cannot assist residents in groups. Should the Bromwell families remain adamant to be dealt with as a group, it will have to be understood that the City, in terms of our own policy, will only engage with them on the basis of their individual applications.”