Housing organisations march for decent houses

In August 2018, backyarders in Cape Town were demanding an end to evictions and for decent housing that is close to schools, clinics and other amenities. Photo by Mfundo Mhlanganiso

Housing organisations marched against evictions that are a feature of the state’s response to the growing wave of land occupations around the City.

A group of housing activists, land occupiers and community members from 20 different communities in Cape Town took to the streets to voice their grievances around housing inequalities and the “inhumane living conditions” they find themselves in. Present at the march were people from various improvised townships of Cape Town. Some came with children as young as four years old – who should be in school but because of “the brutality they faced from the City council and Cape Town city law enforcement, they had to come to the march.”

South Africa has seen a wave of land occupations around the country with backyarders and landless people occupying vacant land in townships and building shacks. Elitsha spoke to Zanele Dywili who is one of more than 90 families that are currently staying in Luyolo community centre in Gugulethu after they were forcibly removed by law enforcement from the land they occupied in Gugulethu. Dywili says their belongings were taken and property destroyed. She says life is difficult and kids don’t even attend school anymore.

Bernadtte Rossouw from Ocean View said people have been served with eviction notices from their homes by the City stating that they are illegal occupants of their homes, the only place that some of them have known since childhood. “Most residents inherited the houses from our parents but the ownership was not changed, so we are seen as illegal occupants,” said Rossouw.

According to Anna Barron from Steen Villa complex in Steenberg, 29 families have already been kicked out of their homes and are staying on the streets.  Sohco Social Housing is the company behind the eviction of these families for their failure to keep up with the ever increasing rent they have to pay. Barron says they occupied a vacant piece of land as an alternative but the City removed them from that land as well. She said that more than 350 residents of the complex are facing eviction.

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“The City of Cape Town seems not to care for the people. The only thing they provided is the night shelter for the victims of eviction. What makes it even more painful is the fact that the institutions that are supposed to protect the vulnerable citizens seems to be on the side of the victimisers,” she said. Their case against the company was dismissed by the High Court.

According to Ebrahiem Fourie from the Housing Assembly that is campaigning for decent housing for all, they had communicated directly with the City Mayor regarding the protest and had agreed to hand the memorandum to her at exactly 12:30. There was no sign of her however. Instead, the City sent two representatives, something the protesters were unhappy about. Eventually Phumlani Godlo and Anvor Clayton signed the memorandum and the City was given seven days to respond.

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