A few minutes after receiving news that they qualify for a housing subsidy, Symphony Way residents get terrorised by the police – again!
For photos and video, click here.
Delft Anti-Eviction Campaign Press Statement
30 October, 2008
Today, the Pavement Dwellers of Symphony Way finally met with Brian Denton, the deputy director of the Province’s subsidy registration for the Department of Housing. He confirmed that almost all Symphony residents qualify for a housing subsidy. Yet, despite this good news, residents were invaded by the city of Cape Town’s Land Invasions Unit and police who attempted to open a road that they had officially closed in February. They maintain that even though the road will remain closed, residents were not allowed to block the road.
Good News — While Mr. Denton refused to comment on the police invasion saying that the Province has no control over actions taken by the city, he told an American journalist that, while six families do not qualify for a home because of technicalities, all the other residents of Symphony Way can either be allocated homes immediately or can soon have their subsidies processed. He confirmed that “121 families [92% of Symphony Way residents] qualify in the pre-screening for a housing subsidy while 9 families have already qualified and can be allocated housing immediately”.
Still, residents of Symphony Way have known this all along – we had carried out our own pre-screenings long ago. Instead, we have not been able to obtain houses because of government bureaucracy and the inadequate number of houses being built by the Province.
Bad News — As Brian Delton drove away, the mood suddenly turned tense as, without warning, the casper (a tank-like riot control vehicle) stationed in the nearby Blikkiesdorp TRA, began moving up Symphony Way toward the settlement. All of a sudden, our community was invaded once again by over 50 officers from SAPS, Metro Police, Law Enforcement and the City’s notorious Land Invasions Unit. The attack, headed by Gregory Exford (who claims also to be a pastor), was painful for us who struggle day-by-day and scary for many of the children on the road.
According to Mr Exford, the reason for their presence is a city bylaw which requires all roads to be cleared of debris. While the city had officially closed the road in February and had sanctioned the blocking of the road, the city is now selectively using laws to intimidate us.
One of our residents, Sarita Jacobs (whose son was hit by a drunk driver on the road a few months ago), summed up her feelings as follows: “The action [by the police] brought up a memory of anger. Now the road is open again and the taxis, the irresponsible police, and drunk drivers will again drive recklessly through Symphony Way. It brings up that fear in me – especially because of what happened to my child”.
But we remain defiant. By evening, the road was again closed.
Better the police raid our settlement than another one of our children get run over by a drunk driver.
For comment by the AEC, please call Ashraf at 076 1861 408 and Aunty Jane at 078 4031 302
For comment by Brian Denton, call 083 6603 330