The end draws near for Bromwell Street families

Bromwell Street residents face eviction on Monday September 26.

Earlier this week, activist organisation Ndifuna Ukwazi, which represents residents facing eviction in Bromwell Street, Woodstock, brought an urgent application before the Western Cape High Court to compel the City to meaningfully engage the tenants and to provide them with temporary alternative accommodation.

“Our attorneys have requested that the eviction be stayed, until the court has ruled on the City’s obligation to provide the residents with temporary accommodation. The urgent application is likely to be heard on Friday,” Ndifuna Ukwazi spokesman Daneel Knoetze said on Tuesday, September 20.

The Bromwell Street families stand to be evicted from their homes on Monday September 26.

“This application will seek to affirm the City’s obligation to Bromwell Street’s families, a principle which should extend to other working class people who face eviction and removal from their homes. It should pave the way for an overdue programme to provide evictees with temporary alternative accommodation, as near as possible to the homes from which they are evicted,” Mr Knoetze said.

The organisation said the residents were prejudiced in the court proceedings which led to the Woodstock Hub securing an eviction order against them in March.

“This order was handed down after a purported agreement between our clients and the Woodstock Hub, via their respective legal representatives at the time. The eviction order was therefore not granted following a full hearing, where the court determined whether an eviction would be just and equitable as required by the Prevention of Illegal Eviction and Unlawful Occupation Act,” said Mr Knoetze.

“Our clients have maintained that they were not privy or in agreement to the eviction order.

“An eviction following from that order would not be just and equitable, because it will render our clients homeless and destitute.”

Mr Knoetze said the residents had been ordered to vacate their homes by Sunday July 31, and had tried to find suitable and affordable alternative places to stay, but could not.

The vacation date was postponed to Friday September 9, after another agreement between the tenants and the Woodstock Hub, and again to Monday September 26, after an intervention by Mayor Patricia de Lille.

“At a visit to our clients on Thursday September 8, Mayor De Lille said that the City did not have an obligation to provide our clients with temporary alternative accommodation in the area. She, however, undertook to look into the possibility of availing City-owned land in the area to relocate and rehouse our clients temporarily.

“In this application, we will argue that the mayor’s claim that the City does not have an obligation to provide temporary alternative accommodation for the Bromwell Street families has no merit and is contrary to the obligations of a municipality as pronounced upon in a number of Constitutional Court and Supreme Court of Appeal decisions. For example, in 2011, in the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality v Blue Moonlight Properties 39 (Pty) Ltd and another matter, the Constitutional Court ruled that municipalities were constitutionally obliged to provide evictees with temporary alternative accommodation as near as feasibly possible to the area from which they are evicted.”

Ndifuna Ukwazi would ask the court to confirm the City’s obligation and to direct the City to provide the Bromwell Street residents with temporary alternative accommodation within three months, said Mr Knoetze.

The City had not responded to queries at the time of going to print.