Poor Woodstock residents continue their fight to remain in the hip Cape Town suburb


Poor Woodstock residents continue their fight to remain in the hip Cape Town suburb

Farren Collins | 2017-01-31 13:26:11.0

HIPSTER HEAVEN: Woodstock is increasingly becoming the site of upmarket attractions

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Woodstock is among the trendiest suburbs in Cape Town. It is home to one of the best restaurants in the world but is also home to several underprivileged families who have been fighting eviction for more than a year.

On Tuesday they were back in the high court in Cape Town to argue that the emergency accommodation organised for them by city officials is not suitable.

In their corner is the Ndifuna Ukwazi Law Centre. In September the law centre launched an urgent application to compel the city to ”meaningfully engage” with Bromwell Street tenants and to find them temporary alternative accommodation.

Many other poor residents from Woodstock have been evicted from the suburb in recent years. Eviction proceedings were instituted against Bromwell Street residents by the new owners of the properties in 2015.

“The law centre requested that the eviction be stayed‚ until the court has ruled on the City’s obligation to provide the residents with temporary accommodation‚” a statement by Ndifuna Ukwazi Law Centre read.

The city had secured accommodation in Wolwerivier which is several kilometres from the Cape Town CBD.

Advocate Karrisha Pillay‚ representing the City of Cape Town‚ told the court on Tuesday that the city was providing the nearest available accommodation and that there was “no point” in inspecting the site.

But earlier‚ advocate Sheldon Magardie from the Ndifuna Ukwazi Law Centre‚ argued that the city had not correctly implemented its policy on the provision of emergency accommodation.

“The test is not whether a human being can live there‚ it is if the policy has been implemented reasonably‚” Magardie said.

Previously the families had complained about conditions in Wolwerivier‚ situated about 30km from the city centre.

Responding to Judge Leslie Weinkove’s question as to what he would see if he were to grant the request for inspection‚ Magardie said he would see the poor proximity to amenities.

“Distance from the city and other services like health care‚ schools and transport nodes are all problems‚” said Magardie.

In court papers one of the applicants‚ Charnell Commando‚ said she lives in one of the four homes which accommodates 43 people altogether. “Most of us are unemployed and survive on casual work. Those who are employed earn relatively low wages from R600 to R8‚200 per month. The property is our only home. If we are evicted from the property‚ most of us will become homeless‚” said Commando.

Weinkove also asked if it was not the national government’s responsibility to provide adequate accommodation for the applicants.

Last year the law centre said the city is in the ”midst of a house and segregation crisis”. It also said ”no state funded inner city affordable housing has been built since the end of apartheid”.

The case continues.

TMG Digital/TimesLIVE

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