Communities are placing their own stamp on the N2 Gateway project

2 01 2008

Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign Press Statement
January 2nd 2008

On 3rd January more than 1000 backyarders from Delft and other areas of Cape Town, who occupied N2 Gateway houses in Delft before Christmas and were granted a stay of eviction by the Cape High Court, return to the Court.

They claim that the order through which first the Cape Town City Council and then Thubelisha Homes tried to evict them was invalid and hence the evictions were illegal. They want to stop the evictions altogether.

Their occupation was sparked by a visit from Housing Minister to Delft on 16 December, when she handed over keys to former Joe Slovo residents for these houses, totally ignoring that 30% of them had been promised to Delft backyarders.

The backyarders plan a march from Kaisergracht to the High Court and will be joined by other communities. These will include residents of Joe Slovo informal settlement, for whom the N2 Gateway Delft houses were ultimately intended by government and Thubelisha, and who are resisting eviction to Delft. Joe Slovo residents want houses built for them in Joe Slovo and support the claims of the backyarders to the Delft houses.

Other communities, including residents of N2 Gateway Phase 1, Mitchells Plain, Gugulethu, Khayelitsha, Athlone etc, are also supporting the Delft backyarders in their occupation. Everyone is welcome to participate in support.

Thubelisha Homes were refused a new eviction order by the Cape High Court on 24 December and may well try to apply for such an order again on 3rd January. This will be opposed by the Delft backyarders, just as Joe Slovo residents opposed the attempt by Sisulu, MEC Richard Dyantyi and Thubelisha Homes to get an urgent eviction order against them last year. This means that the Delft backyarders will not in any event face immediate eviction. The Joe Slovo case was eventually heard in December and the Cape High Court is likely to make a judgement on 15 January.

Delft backyarders also plan to sue the relevant authorities for damages for the illegal evictions.

N2 Gateway is proclaimed as a “pilot project” which is supposed to be susceptible to change when mistakes are made. As long ago as July 2005 the residents of Boys Town, Crossroads, occupied the N2 in protest against plans to move them into flats as part of the project. Since then, however, Sisulu, Dyantyi and Thubelisha Homes have been deaf to all the views expressed by affected communities and dogmatically proceeded with their own plans — even though one of Thubelisha Homes proclaimed values is “flexibility”: “Our ever-changing environment requires us to be adaptable, innovative, and bold in order to remain effective and to seize opportunities.” Now affected communities are placing their own stamp on events and demanding the housing that they require.

Already, in response to the mass protests by Joe Slovo residents, Thubelisha Homes has announced that it has reduced the number of FNB-sponsored bond houses that will be built in Joe Slovo from 200 to 35! With more flexibility, it would be possible to accomodate the demands of residents of Joe Slovo as well as the Delft backyarders. But for this, Sisulu, Dyantyi and Thubelisha must withdraw their eviction plans and engage in serious negotiations with all the affected communities.

For more information contact Ashraf Cassiem 076-186-1408

Mcnedise Twala 078-580-8646

Mzonke Poni 073-256-2036

Pamela Beukes 079-370-9614

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