Today in the Cape Town Magistrates Court the respondents’ (St James Street) attorney Mr Zehir Omar argued that they are not unlawful occupiers. He argued that they signed a proper lease agreement and have paid their rent on time.
On the 18th of September 2008, however, the tenants received an eviction letter from Steer & Company to inform them to vacate the property on the latest by midnight on the 30th of November 2008. Nonetheless, Steer and Company failed to realise that the standing lease agreement between the lessor (Beverly Hofmeyer) and the lessee (St James Street) had a clause which stipulated that the lease agreement renewed automatically every year on the 1st of December. After various submissions Mr Omar also argued that under Section 27 of the Prevention of Illegal Eviction (PIE) Act it was not just and equitable that the respondents be evicted from the property and most importantly the applicants failed to provide the Honourable Court with a proper report from the City of Cape Town Municipality on alternative suitable accommodation. As a result, Mr Omar suggested to the Court that the case be dismissed with costs.
Most disturbingly the applicant’s lawyer – Ms Maria Christodul - argued that in the past it had not been necessary to apply for a report on alternative accommodation from the City of Cape before evicting tenants. She said that in the past the City of Cape Town employees had been too busy to consider such applications, and in her words had thrown such applications in the “rubbish bin”. With these words she closed her argument. If Ms Christodul is to be believed, then this means that the rich capitalists have been evicting people without even following proper procedures and have used their power to remove the poor to the outskirts of the City.
The Judge will give her verdict on the case on the 8th of April 2009.
Mr Omar will also be representing Gympie Street residents on the 7th of April 2009 against Pastor Robertson, who is once again attempting to evict them from their homes.
The people of St James Street and Gympie Street would like to invite all social movements, trade unions, and NGOs to come to the Court on the 7th and 8th of April 2009 in solidarity.
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