‘Why we don’t want Wolverivier’

The affected residents all gathered in Bromwell Street last week to share their feelings on being evicted and moved to the Wolwerivier settlement.

Bromwell Street residents facing eviction have turned down a proposed move to the “isolated settlement” in Wolwerivier, which is about 30km north of the city centre.

In November last year, a handful of residents took the trip to Wolwerivier settlement to assess the City of Cape Town’s proposed offer, but the visit ended prematurely and residents headed back home with the intention of never going back.

Speaking on behalf of the Bromwell Street residents, Charnell Commando said: “We cannot survive in a place like Wolwerivier. What we found there was truly shocking.

“Wolwerivier is on a farm in the middle of the bush. There are no work opportunities, schools, shops or healthcare facilities there. Many of us work, go to school and attend hospital near the city,” she said.

Another concern for residents was finding out about the number of poisonous snakes in the Wolwerivier area and claims by a local that an ambulance only arrived days after it has been called to attend to a resident who had been bitten last year.

Ten families from Bromwell Street face eviction from their homes.Residents have approached the City to allow them to make use of a piece of city-owned land in Bromwell Street, where containers could be set up and used for residential purposes.

“That is often what the City does on the Cape Flats when it is renovating council flats. We have seen these containers – they have two bedrooms, a small kitchen and a shower. Mayor (Patricia de Lille) said that she would look into it,” Ms Commando said. “We are disappointed that the mayor has not come to report back to us,” she added. According to the residents, City officials from the human settlements department encouraged residents to apply for permanent social housing, but Ms Commando said that many of the residents who applied, did not qualify.

“The mayor and her lawyers are preparing to argue in court that Bromwell Street’s residents who do not qualify for social housing, should be moved to Wolwerivier,” she said. Bromwell Street residents are now requesting that the City and the mayor, along with her string of lawyers, find better solutions to keep them within the city.

“We are very worried about safety, because of conflicts in the community (Wolwerivier). No matter what the outcome of the court case, we say very firmly that no resident from Bromwell Street will ever move to Wolwerivier.

“We cannot allow the mayor to make an example of us, one which could lead to other forced removals from city to Wolwerivier,” Ms Commando said.

“We will continue to fight for our right and for the rights of other residents, to remain in the city.”

The City’s Mayco member for transport and urban development, Brett Herron, said the City was only prepared to comment on the matter once it had argued its case before the Western Cape High Court.