Woodstock - At 9h10 in the morning, on Wednesday 23 July 2008, three metro police and three SAPS vehicles arrived in Gympie Street and, with the help of municipal electricity department labourers, cut the electricity of the six contested flats on the road. The slumlord, Pastor Dennis Robertson, who has been harassing residents and attempting to evict them since 2003, had instructed the authorities to cut electricity and remove water meters as a punishment for their refusal to vacate the property. Residents describe this as a desperate act by Pastor Dennis Robertson who is worried of loosing next Friday’s court case against residents. A past High Court Judgment has found it to be illegal to intimidate residents and force their eviction through cutting their electricity and other services.
Since this slumlord first claimed he was the new owner 2003, residents of Gympie Street have been fighting for their constitutional right to decent and adequate housing. For years, residents have been paying their rent every month without fail despite the owner never doing any maintenance on the flats, leaving them in hazardous and rundown conditions. As a way to push out these poor residents to gentrify the area in preparation for the 2010 World Cup, Slumlord Dennis has consistently attempted to raise rents.
In 2006, Slumlord Dennis used government to forcibly evict residents from the flats. After spending 6 weeks of a cold and wet winter on the pavement opposite their empty flats, residents used the Prevention of Illegal Evictions (PIE) Act to legally justify their reoccupation of the flats. A year later, the six members of the residents coordinating committee were unjustly arrested and then released on a warning.
In a few days time, on Friday 1st August, residents will be back in court to defend themselves from another unconstitutional eviction order. They will be defended by well-known Advocate Zehir Omar and with the support of the Anti Eviction Campaign will be marching to the Magistrates Court of Cape Town.
The AEC condemns all greedy slumlords, whether or not they are laymen or church pastors, who attempt to rob the poor of their shelter and dignity.
For more information, please contact Willy Heyn (AEC Coordinator) or Zehir Omar (Advocate) at .