Media: Reprieve for Symphony Way pavement dwellers

11 06 2009

Caitlin Ross – West Cape News
11 June 2009

Jubilant residents of Symphony Way in Delft sang and danced outside the Western Cape High Court yesterday (09/06/2009) in celebration of their successful application for a postponement of the hearing that will decide whether or not they will be evicted from their current home.

The residents, numbering about 100 and supported at the court by Anti-Eviction Campaign activists, were evicted from RDP houses in Delft on 17 February 2008, after a chaotic mix-up over whom the correct beneficiaries were.
The City of Cape Town is applying for an order that the residents vacate the pavement area alongside Symphony Way where they have been living since being evicted from the RDP houses and move to Temporary Location Areas.
This is the second time the hearing has been postponed. On 20 March the hearing was postponed to yesterday with instruction that the respondents file answering papers.

The 101 residents have thus far been represented by Ashraf Cassiem, chairperson of the Anti-Eviction Campaign.

Cassiem applied for postponement on the grounds that the group has not been able to find legal council “not on the City’s payroll”.

He begged acting judge Jake Moloi to grant a postponement of three weeks in order for them to obtain council and prepare their papers adequately.

Addressing Justice Moloi, Advocate Robert Stelzner, for the City of Cape Town, said Cassiem was a “seasoned campaigner” well versed in legal matters, and was using a stalling tactic.

He warned that the land currently available for the residents would not necessarily be available forever.

Stelzner said Cassiem wanted to delay the hearing in order to “avoid dealing with the merits of this matter”.

He said the matter was urgent and the respondents had already been given three times the normal period in which to file their opposing affidavit.

Justice Moloi said the task of the court had not been made easy in that the failure of the respondents to produce their papers meant the court had “no knowledge” of the grounds on which their application was based.

He said they had demonstrated no compliance and “defied the order of the court” and questioned the claim that they had not been able to find legal representation.

He was obliged, however, to “reluctantly” grant the request for postponement with reference to the rights enshrined in Section 34 of the Constitution, which allows everyone a right to legal representation.

Moloi then postponed the hearing to 3 September, but stressed that this would be the final date.

Upon hearing the news, about 50 of the respondents in the public gallery erupted into song and applause.

But although the residents were pleased they had won their application, some who had hoped for some kind of resolution showed disappointment at having to return to a shack.

Elizabeth Rees, who said she gave birth to a son last year in her “hokkie” pavement dwelling, said she was sick and tired of waiting and that her children were suffering and being made fun of at school.
– West Cape News

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