Event: March for community control over the housing process Time: 10am Date: Thursday July 24th, 2008 Location: Assemble in Keizergragt Street (march to Thubelisha, Trafalgar and Provincial Department of Local Government and Housing) —
On the afternoon of Sunday, 20 July more than a dozen local community leaders came together from across the Western Cape for the first Anti-Eviction Campaign General Meeting in more than sixth months. Held at the BSL Ex-Servicemen’s Club in Silvertown, the meeting drew more than sixty delegates from informal settlements as well as public and privately owned housing. Although facing a range of different issues, from the privatization of water to a rash of night-time evictions, delegates resolved to strategise a collective way forward during the months leading up to the April 2009 elections and 2010 World Cup.
From Gugulethu to QQ section, Hout Bay to Hanover Park, delegates expressed their solidarity with the various communities impacted by the N2 Gateway Project who will be marching in Cape Town on the morning of 24 July. This includes the current residents of some 700 N2 Gateway rental flats (otherwise known as Joe Slovo Phase 1 who have been on a rent boycott since mid-2007) the thousands of families of the Joe Slovo informal settlement resisting forced removal to Temporary Relocation Areas in Delft, and the more than 200 families of the Symphony Way settlement living opposite the homes they were evicted from in Delft.
Jointly called by the residents of all three communities, Thursday’s march in the Cape Town CBD will draw attention to the problems caused by the privatization of housing construction through Thubelisha Homes and housing management by Trafalgar Properties. Marchers intend to call upon the Provincial Department of Local Government and Housing to directly see to the region’s grave housing needs. Drawing on the common concerns regarding privatization, Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign chairperson Ashraf Cassiem warned that, “The responsibility for housing, something that is usually provided for by the state, has been given to these private companies. They have a bottom line. They don’t care if you don’t have bread to feed your family.”
Delegates also found common cause with each other’s struggles, as they spoke to recent victories and pressing local issues. In particular, those in attendance called attention to the failure to upgrade of informal settlement, the needs of backyard dwellers, and “pink letters” threatening evictions and service disconnections. At one point, the delegates from the Wes Bank community in Delft spoke movingly and sometimes in tears about the problem of night-time evictions from RDP housing in Delft. Several delegates also spoke to the problem of police and councilor corruption in their areas.
In addition to a general discussion forum, Sunday’s meeting also provided and opportunity for communities facing similar problems to learn from each other. Hawkers in Mitchell’s Plain Town Centre took time to speak to those representing informal trades in Gatesville and Gugulethu. Similarly, the general meeting also brought together several delegates from the nine Cape Town Community Housing Company projects.
At the end of the meeting, delegates resolved to take the discussion back to their communities and meet again in two weeks.
For more information, please contact:Pamela Buekes 079-370-9614 Ashraf Cassiem 076-186-1408 Gary Hartzenberg 072-394-5859