Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign Press Statement
On the 20th of July 2010, right in the middle of the FIFA World Cup, Sheila Jacobs, a pensioner, was evicted from her home at D233 Khumbula Street in D Section, Khayelitsha. Phumla Maqasha arrived with the Sheriff of the Court and a contingent of police from Lingelethu SAPS, while she was watching a soccer match on TV.
But Sheila owned this house, did not owe a cent to any bank, and had never heard of Mrs Maqasha until that day. And this so-called mistaken eviction began a series of events that has resulted in the mobilisation of an entire community and the subsequent shooting of three older Mamas and the arrest of a fourth Mama and a school-aged boy.
Event: Mobilisation, protest and returning Sheila to her home today
Time and place: 10h00 at D233 in D Section, Khayelitsha
Sheila Jacobs worked as an employee of the City of Cape Town from the 20th of June 1986 until she retired on the 27th of March 2007. A full 21 years of hard work and service to her city enabled her to get a subsidy and purchase a bond house in 1990 which she paid off via monthly deductions from her salary. When she retired in 2007, she owed ABSA only 14,000 left on her loan which she paid in cash in full in 2009 from money she had been saving for her retirement.
As far as ABSA or the government was concerned, she owned the home at D233 outright and owed no one a cent.
As this story will show, however, even the most hard-working and savings-minded government employee is under threat of eviction in the for-profit market driven and corrupt society that we live in.
Sheila Jacobs never received warning that she was under threat of eviction. This is because she was never meant to be evicted in the first place.
When “Sheriff Balju” arrived at D233 on the 20th of July, he did not serve any eviction notice on Sheila but simply removed her and all her belongings from the premises and put a lady named Phumla Maqasha and her family into the home. Without any court order, court summons, or a written document of any kind, she went straight to Lingelethu Police Station where she was referred to Khayalitsha Magestrates Court where she was in turn referred to Mitchell’s Plain Magistrates Court.
It was in Mitchell’s Plain where she finally received a tax invoice from the Sheriff with which he depicted the costs of the eviction of a “Sheila Mdlankomo” (a woman she had never heard of who apparently lives somewhere else) from 10 Khumbula Crescent (an address that doesnt seem to exist).
From there, a fellow community member was able to get a hold of Mrs Maqasha’s lawyer from Leon, Frank and Vennote (0218510737) who had helped secure the eviction which is where Sheila was able to get a faxed copy of the Court’s eviction order. Again, this eviction order was for a Sheila Mdlankomo at 10 Khumbula Crescent on ERF# 2672. Something was terribly wrong; the only information that corresponded to her property or her person was the ERF number.
As time went by, Sheila realised that there was probably some mistake and she was being confused with another person named Sheila on another property.
Between July 201 and January 2011, angry community members approached Mrs Maqasha, the lawyer, the court, ABSA bank, the City and many others places to help find a way for Sheila Jacobs to return to her home. Everyone told E Section residents to be patient, that they would get back to them soon. No one ever came back with any news.
Their patience wearing thing, the community held numerous mass meetings calling Phumla Maqasha to account for her side of the story. But she refused to attend the meetings. Eventually, the community decided that Sheila Jacobs, as the rightful owner of the home, should get her house back and that Phumla Maqasha and her family would have to be removed. They gave her notice to vacate the home.
Instead of vacating as the community had requested, Maqasha got a “peace order” against Sheila Jacobs. Instead of talking, Maqasha went to the police.
One day on the 16th of January 2011, the community approached Maqasha asking why she did not vacate the property when it was clear that she had occupied the wrong property. Out of nowhere, a group of police arrived and immediately began shooting at the peaceful crowd of women which had gathered. Three elder Mamas were shot with rubber bullets. Gertrude Sontsonga lost her finger, Nozibele Masiko was shot in the breast, and Nozibele Nobakada was shot in the leg. All three are still recovering from their injuries. To cover for their violence, the police then arrested a woman and a teen-age child who were strangely charged with destroying property and now have a court case for set for May.
Why did the police appear out of nowhere shooting at the community? Maqasha’s daughter made it clear: “I’m calling my boyfriend now and he is going to shoot all of you!” she warned only minutes before police arrived. Her boyfriend, officer Dlamini, orchestrated the shooting, arriving with officers Muller, Mbiza and Madikane from Lingelethu SAPS and guns cocked full of rubber bullets. Ever since then, Maqasha’s daughter has threatened that Dlamini would return if anyone even look at her wrong.
Having boyfriends in the police seems like the way to go if someone wants to evict an old lady from her home.
Taking the police to court
A few days later, the community went Lingelethu police station to lay charge against Dlamini and his crew. This lingered for a while as the police seemed unwilling to take the case further. Eventually, because of the pressure of community members, they received a case number (212/1/2011) and the issue was then refered to ICD investigator Lusanda Booi.
After meetings with community members, Ms Booi appointed Detective Cronje from Lingelethu SAPS to investigate the case. Cronje came and took statements and was very supportive of community members.
However, Cronje was soon taken off the case and Detective Plaatjies came to demand new statements from victims and witnesses. After talking to Ms Booi, they found out this change was not only done without consultation with the ICD, but was suspicious to her and seemed like a way to ‘confuse’ the community. It seems likely that elements within the Lingelethu Police are trying to cover up for the actions of their friends.
As Detective Plaatjies is set to arrive today at 10am to take statements, the community has decided to mobilise its members to pressure Plaatjies into taking the case of police violence seriously. They are worried that the police officers could come back and the result could be another Andries Tatane.
The community with the support of community members from E Section will also mobilise to, once and for all, return Sheila Jacobs to her home.
For more information, contact the following community members:
Gertrude Sontsonga (police victim) @ 072 075 2570
Nozibele Masiko (police victim) @ 076 722 1217
Fundiswa Dyasi (witness) @ 078 151 2474
Thandie Telana (witness) @ 076 170 1724
Sheila Jacobs (eviction victim) @ 078 310 7909
For more information on evictions in Khayelitsha and the rest of Cape Town, contact:
Mncedisi Twalo (WC-AEC Chairperson) @ 078 580 8646