Delft-Symphony Pavement Dwellers building a new world – one child at a time

14 04 2008
Tuesday April 14, 2008
For comment, please call 0761861408 or 0784031302

Greetings from the pavement of Delft-Symphony:

Over the past month, the Delft-Symphony Pavement Dwellers and their elected Anti-Eviction Campaign leadership have been working hand-in-hand to improve the lives of residents. While it may be an exaggeration to assume (as was reported recently in the Cape Argus) that we live here on the pavement in harmony all the time, there does exist a strong sense of camaraderie among residents and a common vision of the type of world we are fighting for.

What are we fighting for? We are fighting for housing; not only for ourselves but for everyone living in South Africa. We recognize that South Africa is a financially rich country that now has 3 billionaires according to the Forbes list and countless millionaires. This is a country that can easily afford to build decent housing for all and fulfil its constitutional mandate. We believe that the government is violating the constitution and our human rights by refusing to spend more than 2% of its budget on housing.

Still, we are not only fighting for houses, we are also fighting for ownership of the housing process. If it is true that ‘the people shall govern’, then how can we sit by and allow a few elitist government officials and their haughty friends in Thubelisha Homes define the process for us?

Yet the government believes that we are stupid; that we cannot think for ourselves; that we cannot design our own communities or construct our own houses. We denounce this arrogance and snobbery by Lindiwe Sisulu and her friends.

But, we are not just fighting for houses and for ownership of the housing process; even more significantly, we are fighting for a better world for ourselves, our children and for every single person living in South Africa. The privatisation and corporatisation of our country is building a new Apartheid that ghettoises the poor in new suburban townships where bread and electricity prices shoot through the roof and where a multi-billion Rand train project in Gauteng is creating a transportation system accessible only to tourists and the wealthy. And so, while fighting for our right to housing, we, the Pavement Dwellers of Delft-Symphony, begin (slowly and without government support) to create this new world that we are fighting for. And we begin, first and foremost, with our children.

We have recently set up a community crèche on the pavement. With the eventual arrival of a container, we expect the crèche to become a defining fixture of our community. But this is only one of the projects we have created for our children. For the past few weeks, we have been running a unique ‘pavement camp’ for kids on school holiday. This has included our soccer and netball clinics, collecting the kids for discussions on life and life-skills, and preparing for the upcoming Symphony Way Fashion Show. Everything has been run by the community and coordinated by the new Delft-Symphony Children’s Committee.

This is proof, once again, that we are not stupid; that we can think; that we can design our own communities, construct our own houses, and build a new world for our children. And we will do so without being commanded by the so-called experts in government who do not understand the human consequences of forced removals and the povertization of the population caused by persistent anti-poor economic policies.

From the pavement in the desert on the other side of Cape Town International Airport,

The Delft-Symphony Anti-Eviction Campaign


Symphony Way residents live in harmony

14 04 2008
Tanya Farber
April 11 2008 at 04:01PM
Source: IOL

In Symphony Way, where the evicted Delft residents take pride in their pavement-based community, life is all about making a plan.

Pulling up a chair for a guest means fetching an old wooden box or a tin drum.

And when it comes to the youngest members of the community, nobody shies away from innovative thinking.

For resident Jane Roberts, known as Aunty Jane to all her neighbours, a community creche is the most important thing. It doesn’t matter how makeshift it might be, or if it pops up on a different section of the pavement each morning, because there are more than 200 toddlers needing care.

“In our community, there are some moms and dads who work, but even for the many that don’t, it is better for the kids to be together socialising,” she says.

With no proper structure as yet, it is difficult for her and the other volunteers to make it fully functional but when a donated container that has been promised arrives and when the structure made from found objects is big enough, they are hoping to also provide aftercare for those at primary school, and homework supervision for those at high school.

“The teachers are all volunteers and we call it our community creche. If I’ve got something, I bring it for the children.

We can’t ask the parents because they don’t have anything. We have no sponsors and only a few toys have been donated, but we are from the struggle. We know what it is to struggle. We can manage,” says Aunty Jane.

Monique Adriaanse, who also offers help to the little ones, says: “We don’t want to go cap in hand to the government because they don’t want us here in the first place. We just want the moms to be satisfied and the little children to be happy.”

For the older children attending primary and high school, life in pavement shacks has not stopped the adults from making sure they have transport.

“We make a plan for them to get to school,” says resident Jerome Daniels, who is also a leader in the Anti-Eviction Campaign. “Kenny the plumber takes some of them in his bakkie.”

In true Symphony Way style, Kenny the plumber is also Kenny the driver and on Friday and Saturday nights he hosts his karaoke evenings.

But, on any week day, the music you’re most likely to hear is the evangelical wailing of Harold Long who moves along the street with his old loudhailer on his decorated bike.

20 000 Joe Slovo residents apply to appeal to the Constitutional Court

14 04 2008

Press Statement: Legal Resources Centre

The order has been suspended by virtue of the occupants bringing an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal, which is still pending. And in the meantime the occupants have instructed their lawyers to attempt to take the matter straight to the Constitutional Court. In this regard the occupants seem to be in agreement with the Ministers and Thubelisha Homes who seek their eviction.

State owned company Thubelisha Homes, the National Minister of Housing and the MEC require the eviction of approximately 20 000 people from the land at Joe Slovo – a well positioned piece of land fairly close to the city. The purpose of the evictions, they argue, is to rehabilitate the land for the Gateway housing programme, which is government’s biggest housing project in the Western Cape.

They have offered the evictees alternative accommodation at Delft approximately 20 kms away from Joe Slovo and further away from the city and it’s employment opportunities. This means, and has been proven as such that transport, crime and unemployment are serious problems at Delft.

In his judgement Judge Hlophe dismissed the resident’s contention that they are living on the land with the consent of the city. He held that they are illegal occupants and are subject to the provisions of the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from the Unlawful Occupation of Land Act (PIE). He further held that as they were illegal occupants they could not claim that they have a legitimate substantive expectation to see that their housing rights are realised at Joe Slovo on the basis of a promise made by officials that 70% of the houses would be allocated to current residents.

The Judge also held that Thubelisha Homes and the Ministers had complied with all the requirements of the Prevention of Illega Evictions from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act (PIE).

In his affidavit outlining their appeal case, Mayenzeke Sopaqa, a leader of the Joe Slovo community, stated that the residents would prefer that the matter go directly to the Constitutional Court, as the matter would inevitably reach the Constitutional Court after a hearing at the Supreme Court of Appeal. This would also result in the matter being resolved quicker and with less expense. He submits that Judge Hlophe’s judgment was wrong in a number of respects. He asserts that the Judge was wrong in finding that they had not shown that they had the consent of the city to live on the land, as they have received services from and engaged with the City for more than a decade. And that not only did they have consent, but that in evicting them the Judge ignored their substantive legitimate expectations and that to do so is a breach of their rights. Sopaqa further avers that the occupants have shown that the applicant company and Ministers failed to comply with the provisions of PIE; and also failed to properly describe the land and site from which they seek the eviction of these 20 000 black occupants – the poorest people closest to the city of Cape Town.

The current housing crisis in Cape Town, and South Africa as a whole requires that state policies pass constitutional scrutiny so that some of the most vulnerable members of our society are adequately protected and treated with dignity.