Media: Gympie residents out on the street

23 05 2009

May 22, 2009 Edition 1
ESTHER LEWIS
Source: Cape Argus

GYMPIE Street residents spent their third night sleeping in the street last night after a five-year eviction battle between them and their landlord.

Eleven people who were ordered – in a Cape High Court ruling – to vacate two dilapidated Woodstock houses with broken windows and no water or electricity, ended up in the street on Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile the owner of the properties has offered to pay R10 000 a household to help them move.

Josephine Jones begged the owner, Dennis Robertson, to change his mind.

“I was born in this street, so were my mother and my children,” said Jones.She said her 11-month-old baby girl had taken ill while sleeping outside.

Another resident, Georgina Heyn, admitted they had not paid rent for five years.

But she accused Robertson of lying to residents and called him a “sick man” for evicting them ahead of winter.

Magdelene Monagee – who has not yet been evicted – said they would be willing to pay rent if Robertson put the water and electricity back on.

“We can pay rent, but not while we’re living like this,” said Monagee.

Robertson said that while he took no pleasure in seeing the people on the street, the saga had dragged on for too long, and had already cost him hundreds of thousands of rands.

It had cost him R118 000 in legal fees to obtain the eviction order in the Cape High Court.

For the past five years he had had to pay rates and the bond with no help from the residents, he said.

Their offer to pay rent had also come too late.

“If I entertain that idea, I would probably get paid for the first month, and then the payments would stop,” said Robertson.

He said that he would be evicting residents one or two households at a time.

Robertson explained that his hands were tied, because if he did not carry out the evictions, he too would be defying the court order.

“I’m not a hard person, but my hands are also tied,” he said.

His lawyer would meet the residents today, he said.

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