Media: Symphony Way ‘illegals’ take battle to court

15 03 2009

March 15, 2009 Edition 1
Nwabisa Msutwana-Stemela
Source: Cape Argus

Shack dwellers who have spent over a year on a street pavement have vowed to obtain the support of other communities to back them in a court battle so that they can stay where they are, or move to organised housing.

This comes after the illegal residents were served with eviction notices earlier this month and were given 21 days to move from Symphony Way in Delft.

The group were, after occupying government houses in Delft illegally last year, evicted and moved to nearby Symphony Way.

Secretary of the Delft Anti Eviction Campaign Kareemah Linneveldt said they wanted the world to know they were facing eviction for a second time, and to remind authorities they were still living on the pavement and “desperately needed” houses.
“We are not celebrating (a year in the Delft street), we are remembering the day we were evicted and how people were shot and injured during that incident. People were crying because they lost houses they thought belonged to them.”

She said they had been victimised by the authorities.

Linneveldt said time was running out for the government to deliver or “no land, no house, no vote”.

She said they would be mobilising other communities to join them when they appeared in court on Friday.

She accused political parties of only now showing some interest in them because provincial elections were around the corner, and added housing should be a right for every South African citizen.

Shack dweller Mncedisi Plaatjies said he believed he had been on the housing waiting list since 2002, but when he went to inquire at the Department of Housing if his name was on the list, he was told it was not and that he had had to reapply.

“They just keep on writing up new waiting lists and people have been waiting for more than 15 years for houses.”

He said there was “no point” in moving from one shack to another and Blikkiesdorp near Delft, where the City of Cape Town wants to move them, is a crime-infested area.

Another resident, Christabel Small, said they would only move when everybody received houses and, as the 120 families left in the street were “like a big family”, they would stick together.

Small added that the authorities were wasting money by building temporary houses in Blikkiesdorp as the homes were too small.

Meanwhile, one of the dozens of Blikkiesdorp residents who have moved from Symphony Way, said they needed proper houses.

A woman, who asked not to be named, said the problem was that there were “too many leaders” in the community and this was confusing the issue.

According to her, things were worse in Blikkiesdorp than in Symphony Way because four households had to share one toilet and one tap and there was no electricity.

“We live in the bush and there is a lot of crime. As soon as it gets dark we just lock ourselves in.”

The city manager for informal settlements Mzwandile Sokupa said the Symphony Way residents were to have moved in March last year when the other illegal invaders accepted the city’s offer to move them to an alternative accommodation.

“We do not have a choice now but to move them as the road they are occupying needs to be operational,” he said.

He said the residents had now been served with notices and had registered that they would challenge the eviction in court.

Sokupa said the city would let the court resolve the matter.

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