By Nikita Sylvester January 22 2010 at 04:51PM Staff Reporter – IOL
A family with a week-old baby is among the 60 illegal occupants evicted from structures in the city’s temporary relocation area Blikkiesdorp and now sleeping on the street.
The families were evicted at about 5pm on Wednesday by law enforcement officials, police and metro police, who threw them out with their possessions, Blikkiesdorp committee member Johan Jordaan said.
City authorities hit back, saying the case was not one of eviction, but of illegal occupancy and damage to property.
“These families deprived the rightful residents of a place to stay,” said Alida Kotzee, director of strategy support and co-ordination in the city’s housing directorate. She confirmed that 16 families were removed from 16 structures.
Brenda Cedras, 48, one of the people evicted, said she was cooking when officials walked into her house and swept her pots off the stove.
“They broke my new plates and my clothes are gone.”
According to Cedras, all the families’ possessions were put in a fenced-off area neighbouring Blikkiesdorp and guarded by security staff and dogs.
She said they had nowhere to go and had to sleep in the open without food, water or clothing. Their children had been unable to attend school because they were “too dirty”, “hungry” and had “no clean clothes”.
The families said they had not been not notified of the eviction plans. They acknowledged they had moved into the vacant structures without permission, but said they had been on the housing waiting list for years.
Rushdia Abrahams, 38, said: “We moved in because there are people from outside who moved in here. I have been on the waiting list for 19 years and no one can give me answers.”
Jordaan said council staff, with law enforcement officials, returned about noon yesterday and began returning people’s possessions. But the people were still on the streets as they had not been given an alternative place to stay. They spent last night there.
Trevor Mitchell, head of housing and policy research for the city, said Blikkiesdorp had been established to accommodate families in times of extreme emergency, such as fire, floods or eviction.
Anti-Eviction Campaign spokesman Willy Heyn said they wanted an investigation into two city officials who allegedly put people into the structures, promising them papers later.