Change room families’ future still uncertain

16 09 2011

Fadela Slamdien – Sep 15 2011 – The New Age

Six families living in decrepit change rooms at Athlone Stadium in Kewtown are still in the dark about whether the council has plans to relocate them.

The council issued eviction notices against the families, some of whom had lived in the change rooms for 10 years, as they wanted to demolish the buildings to extend the parking area as part of a R406m upgrade of Athlone Stadium for the soccer World Cup.

When the families ignored the notices, the city took the matter to court, claiming the premises were unfit for human habitation and alleging the occupants were involved in “illegal activities”, which they strenuously denied.

But magistrate Mas-Udah Pangarker refused to evict the families. Instead, she ordered the city to either provide the families with alternative accommodation in the surrounding area if it wanted to demolish the building, or allow the families to remain.

The six families share two toilets and only one couple, out of them all, is employed.

Alwyn Abrahams, who lives with his wife Cindy and their two young children in one of the six change rooms, said they had heard nothing from the city since the magistrate’s ruling 18 months ago.

Abrahams said during the court hearings, the city offered to relocate the families to Blikkiesdorp, but the magistrate refused to accept this as an option.

She insisted that the families’ children were in local schools and members of the families were being treated at local clinics and should be rehoused in the area.

Abrahams said: “We were willing to look after the place for them. But just before the World Cup, they gave us the eviction notice,” he said, adding that the council had cut electricity to the building about five years ago and the families relied on candles for light and gas to cook and for warmth.

Councillor Tandeka Gqada said the city’s sport and recreation department, which manages the facility, did not appeal the judgment. It was consulting with the city’s human settlements department regarding the relocation of the families, he said. – WCN

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