Delft Anti-Eviction Campaign Press Statement
28 June, 2008
Delft-Symphony – At 4 pm on Saturday 28th of June, 8 year old Charl Jacobs was hit from behind and knocked over by a drunk driver speeding down Symphony Way. Renee, a qualified nurse, and Vicky, a first aid assistant (who both live on the road), kept pressure on Charl’s head wound – keeping him conscious until the ambulance eventually arrived.
For months, the Pavement Dwellers of Delft-Symphony Way (who were violently evicted in February) have been emphasizing the danger of speeding vehicles such as taxis, trucks, ordinary cars, government vehicles and even aggressive police cars who insist on using Symphony Way as a shortcut to their destinations. This road is supposed to be closed to traffic because of the thousands of homeless people currently living on the road. This problem has been raised at all meetings of residents with the traffic department, government officials, and directly to MEC Richard Dyantyi. In fact, for months, city officials have promised that action would be taken to close the road.
But because officials fail to keep their promises, residents have attempted to take matters into their own hands by calling on drivers to slow down, partially barricading the roads, setting up makeshift boom gates, and finally, as a last resort, closing the road completely with burning tires. On Thursday, yet another city official promised to set up proper barricades by 4pm the day before the incident (the 27th of June). This, as with other commitments by officials, never materialized.
According to Renee, “Charl was running off to the store and the car hit him from behind. Thats when I shouted: He’s getting away!”. Rather than stopping after hitting the boy, Mr Xolile continued speeding down Symphony Way. When residents caught him at the corner of Modderdam and Stellenbosch Arterial, he was clearly intoxicated. Residents brought him back to the scene of the crime where police took him and a passenger into custody.
Thousands of angry Pavement Dwellers are holding the South African government directly responsible for this easily preventable accident. While residents, who are struggling to survive in the freezing cold weather, live directly across from empty houses that were meant for them, this tragedy is proof once again that no one in government actually cares about the safety and basic needs of the poor pavement dwellers.
The Delft Anti-Eviction Campaign is now looking into the feasibility of suing government for their inaction which has resulted in the near death of Charl and suffering of thousands who have, for years, been on the waiting list for houses.
For comment, please contact Ashraf at
Update: Charl Jacobs’ father went to the police station today and has found out that the drunk driver, Mr Xolile, has not been charged for his crime. The police seem to have just let him go.