Media: Nonagenarian faces eviction, again

10 11 2008

Note: The Anti-Eviction Campaign successfully put 96 year old Dora Booysen back in her home.  She will not move all the way to Mitchell’s Plain where she will not have the help and support of her family.  She will stay where she is until the city confirms that the house is owned by her.  If helping old ladies from homelessness is controversial as the article below states, then let us be controversial!

By Nwabisa Msutwana-Stemela

November 10 2008 at 07:53AM

Source: Cape Argus

Tempers flared outside a Gugulethu home where a 93-year-old woman faces eviction for the second time this year because of a long-running dispute about ownership.

Red-shirted members of the deeply controversial Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign and community members last week gathered in support of Nothemba Booysen, who lives in the house with her niece Dora Booysen.

The women had received a letter from Sogwagwa Attorneys saying they had to go, but they were determined to resist the pressure.

The house, formerly a council house, has been home to the Booysen family since the 1970s. But in 1996 it appears to have been incorrectly registered by the municipality as belonging to the Mnyengeza family who lived next door, giving the Mnyengezas ownership of both houses. Read the rest of this entry »

Delft squatters banish memory of evil

10 04 2008
April 08 2008 at 02:25PM
Source: IOL

Along with the shrubs and desiccated undergrowth, Delft’s “Bush of Evil” was cut from people’s thoughts a long time ago.

Even Delft squatters sleeping on the ground that was once a hotbed of child rape and murder have shoved the sordid memories, like that of six-year-old Kim Abrahams or six-year-old “Little Rock” who survived after being abused and set alight, to the back of their minds.

But for Esmeralda Josephs, the mother of Kim Abrahams, it is difficult to forget.

“Most people don’t know what it is to lose a child, you never get over it,” she says, gently rocking the pram of her son, Waslie.

‘Most people don’t know what it is to lose a child’
She keeps him close, not letting him out of her sight for even a moment.

Every few seconds, she looks up at the faces of the other squatters standing in the food line, and while she knows most of them, she trusts very few.

She was pregnant with Waslie, she says, when Joey died just two years ago.

Her three-year-old daughter was lured from her home by a stranger offering her 50c. Her half-naked, battered body was later discovered just 3km away, concealed deep in the bushes near Leiden, Delft.

Now, this same piece of dune-like land has, ironically, become a safe haven to hundreds of families who were forcefully removed from unfinished N2 Gateway houses in February.

‘It feels like a refugee camp’
Josephs is just one of many with a heart-wrenching story to tell.

“When they evicted us, I just lost it. Those same policemen couldn’t arrest my child’s murderer, but they can kick us poor people out of the only houses we have.”

As she edges further towards the front of the queue, Josephs tries to recall how many times she has moved but eventually gives up, saying: “There’s too many times to count.”

She has set up a makeshift “hokkie” towards the back of the Section One camp.

It is positioned on the very spot where Joey’s body was uncovered.

She says it may seem strange to some, but it has helped her come to terms with her daughter’s murder.

“All I want is a house of my own where my son will be safe.

“Joey never had that,” she says.

But Josephs is not the only former backyard dweller fighting for a house to call her own.

The Delft families, who have set up camp on the outskirts of the N2 Gateway project for the past seven weeks, have all demanded formal housing.

They squatted there in a defiant act against the Cape High Court’s eviction order, enduring appalling living conditions in the hope that they will one day be given one of the finished two-bedroom houses.

In reality, only 30 percent of them will eventually get one.

“It’s a race thing,” explains resident Aziza Rhoda, as she washes sand from her crockery for the sixth time that day.

Like many other members of the tight-knit community, she believes she is being sidelined because she is “coloured and not black”.

“The African people from Joe Slovo don’t want to move here because it’s too far. If they don’t want it, why should we, as the people of Delft, not get it? The government only cares about the coloured people when it’s time to vote.”

As Rhoda speaks, she struggles to move around in her part of a 4×4-metre tent, provided by the City of Cape Town and shared with three families.

Nonetheless, she is thankful that she recently moved from the bigger tent, where even more families were housed together.

“When I was there, there were two times when women woke up in the night screaming because there were men trying to rape them. that’s when I decided to move,” she says.

And the last few days have been even harder on Rhoda and Josephs, both of whom had pinned their hopes on a move to a new Delft site in the next few days.

However, these hopes swiftly evaporated when the city announced that, as a result of building material setbacks, residents would remain where they were for at least another three months, well into the cold winter season.

Some hopeful residents still cling to a pamphlet they were handed by the city long ago, promising each family a 7×7-metre piece of land and materials to build a waterproof 18m? iron structure with a door and window.

It appears a cruel situation for the squatters, who wake up every day to see the “real houses” they so desperately fought for lying empty, just over the wire barrier that fences them in.

One woman, identifying herself only as Priscilla, describes life on the dusty dunes of Delft as a constant battle - if they weren’t fighting for houses, they were fighting off the cold and sand at night with nothing but a few blankets and the shelter of flimsy tents.

As winter approaches, they fear this could worsen.

A mother of two, Hania Albshary, says she would have no qualms about moving back into the vacant houses if her family could not bear the cold, in spite of the consequences that may follow.

“My husband is sick, he can’t work. I must think about him. I must think about my children,” she says.

Children as young as two, seemingly oblivious to the dire circumstances, occupy their time by scooping up buckets of sand or climbing in and out of a large rubbish container near the boundary of the site.

Most have stopped going to school because their parents fear they will be taunted for being dirty, others are too sick with diarrhoea and the flu, which they have supposedly picked up in the surroundings.

“It feels like a refugee camp,” says Priscilla angrily. “We are closed in with fences like animals and we’ve been living in tents for weeks. If we are on the housing list, why should we have to go through this?”

Twice a day, residents are given a warm meal, a load shared by the municipality and Islamic Relief South Africa , but at meetings residents make their feelings heard.

“We don’t want food,” one man shouts, “it’s not food we need, it’s houses!”

The same sentiments echo through the Gateway’s second camp, a group settled on a Symphony Way pavement bordering Section Two.

This group has largely been perceived as rebellious because it has declined the help of the city.

More significantly, the members have fervently refused to move to the new site, even if that means a repeat of February’s violent evictions.

Like Josephs they fear that, even after 14 years of democracy, they may just be forgotten.

Behind the empty promises of politicians, the frantic fight for houses and an immense housing backlog they will remain just another name on an ever-growing housing list.

Police set up 2 illegal roadblocks in Delft to prevent relief from reaching the people

25 02 2008

Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign Press Alert
Monday 25th February 2008 at 2pm

** Media are called urgently to rush to the scene at Delft **

DELFT, CAPE TOWN - The police have set up two roadblocks on each side of Symphony Way, which is the Delft road being occupied by the 1600 people who were evicted from the occupied houses last week. The police are using the roadblocks to refuse media and relief trucks entrance to the area. Islamic Relief was turned away with a big cargo of food, blankets, tenting and nappies that is desperately needed by the people.

The police are telling the media and the relief trucks that the Anti-Eviction Campaign (AEC) are the ones who refuse to let them inside. This is completely untrue, as the AEC has always been on good terms with the media and all of Cape Town’s charities and relief agencies and has in fact been visiting the relief agencies personally over the past week to call for aid for the Delft residents.

Currently Symphony Way is split into two sections, one affiliated to the AEC and one affiliated to DA Councillor Frank Martin. The majority of the people of Delft are extremely disillusioned with Councillor Frank Martin and have moved to the section of the road affiliated to AEC.

Frank Martin who simply incited people to occupy the houses on the racist basis that it would be unfair for those houses to be given to Black people from Joe Slovo. Thereafter he did nothing to support the people who faced an immediate eviction. He did not contribute in any way to the legal struggle and he has also continued with his racism about housing in SA only being given to “blacks” which is completely untrue and is not in any way what AEC believes. Read the rest of this entry »

Urgent Press Release: Delft homeless are now being evicted from their tents!

24 02 2008

Sunday, 24th February, 2008


The provincial Social Welfare Department and the Democratic Alliance’s Dan Plato are threatening Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) because the charity has put up tents for the recently evicted residents of Delft. They are threatening tear down the tents as we speak.

According to Achmat from IRW: “The Social Welfare department of the province went to the police to lay a charge for the erection of illegal structures. They demanded that IRW remove the structures [tents] immediately”.

Achmat also claims he has received a call form Dan Plato threatening Islamic Relief Worldwide that if they do not remove all tents by tonight, the City of Cape Town with the backing of the police will come in unilaterally and remove it themselves.

For comment and specifics on the threat, please call Achmat from IRW on .

The Anti-Eviction Campaign along with IRW requests anyone concerned to come immediately to Symphony Road in Delft where residents are living. By 19h30, the City of Cape Town is planning to remove the tents and render residents vulnerable once again to the harsh elements of the area.

Gympie Street Residents Committee Press Release

24 02 2008
20th February 2008

For comment: Gympie Street lawyer Advocate Zehir Omar - or or Willy Heyn on

The Gympie Street Residents Co-ordinating Committee of 6 people will appear in the Cape Town magistrates court again on Monday 25th February 2008.

This after they were all arrested in a dawn raid by Woodstock police and unlawfully charged with contravening the High Court eviction order that was handed down against them in 2006.

None of the residents contravened the High Court Eviction Order granted to the owner of the Gympie Street flats in 2006. The order was for an eviction of the residents, but after spending 6 weeks living on the pavement outside their homes in the winter (the City having failed to provide alternative accommodation) the residents went back into the flats, but NOT the flats they were evicted from. They went to live in each other’s flats. This nullified the court order. It was then up to the owner of the flats to get a new court order against the occupants which he failed to do.

The Co-ordinating Committee are a courageous group of impoverished people who are making a stand against gentrification of the city by property developers. They are Willy Heyn; Margaret Petersen (single mother of two children, the youngest being 12 years old); Lydia Portland (single mother looking after two children of her own and three of her sister’s children who is currently in hospital – one of these children is 3 yrs old); Marietta Monagee (single mother of three children aged 5, 8 and 10yrs old); Sarah Jones (looking after her grandchildren who live with her – aged 2, 3, 5 and 6 years old) and Zubeida Brown (single mother of 4 kids – one who is 20 years old is in a wheelchair since birth, completely dependent on her mother for all aspects of her care.)

The backdrop to this story is a real tale of tragedy. These residents were paying their rent every month for years despite the owner never doing maintenance on the flats which are in a hazardous and rundown condition. Most of the residents are either jobless or doing casual domestic or factory work at pay of R50 per day so they have nowhere else to go and no possibility of renting other flats.

After the owner got a High Court eviction order against them last year, the residents were evicted to the pavement. The city refused to find suitable alternative accommodation for them despite there being available accommodation in Woodstock at the former hospital, which is standing 90% empty. About 100 people then slept and lived on the pavements in this crowded city area for about five weeks. The city told them to move to Happy Valley where each family would be given three sticks and a heavy piece of plastic to build a shelter. The residents refused because all their children are in Woodstock schools and because many of them are ill and cannot go and live in the sand far from the city.

Some residents were persuaded by the council to visit Happy Valley and see if it would be suitable. When those residents got there, they had the fright of their lives when the existing residents of Happy Valley told the Gympie Street residents that they would “burn them out on the first day” if they moved to Happy Valley.

As such, the residents are terrified of moving to Happy Valley, and at the same time are being forced out of Woodstock by a property developer. Their options are zero, which is unacceptable because the City has a responsibility to house the poor. The City has tried to dodge its responsibility by saying this is a private matter however, the Gympie Street residents are the City’s responsibility because these are poor people who should long ago have been allocated council housing like others on the waiting list.

Communities have vowed to mobilise to support the Gympie Street residents, as they did last year.

See also: ‘I live here or I die’ from the Mail & Guardian

Pictures of Delft evictions and police brutality

22 02 2008

18 February, 2008 - The day before the evictions

19 February, 2008 - Evictins begin; police open fire on residents.

Delft refuse, resist eviction

19 02 2008

By Asa Sokopo, Murray Williams and Andisiwe Makinana
19 February, 2008, 16:45

Source: The Star

Violence broke out in Delft Symphony section of N2 Gateway on Tuesday after residents who had been evicted from their homes following a court order tried to pull their belongings from removal trucks.

Police opened fire with rubber bullets and stun grenades after hours of tension erupted into chaos.

Journalists, photographers and residents ran for cover when police opened fire.

It is unclear how many were injured but on the scene the Cape Argus saw eight people with injuries, while residents claimed that some children had been hurt and were rushed to hospital.

The tension built up after a large eviction team, backed by security guards and a heavy police presence, moved into the area at 4.30am and began evicting about 1 600 illegal occupants from N2 Gateway houses after their application for leave to appeal against their eviction was refused in the Cape High Court on Monday.

Both tears and verbal abuse flowed as some residents complained that little children had been herded from their homes in the cold before dawn, and said they had no food or water on the street.

Some residents stood their ground - hurling abuse at police and security guards - and furniture had to be removed from the houses by security staff.

A large crowd gathered at a major intersection at the suburb, leaving police trying to control the situation between the houses and piles of rubbish in the streets.

Shortly before 11am, trucks loaded with furniture tried to make their way out of the area, but were blocked by groups of residents sitting in the road.

When some tried to wrestle their possessions from the trucks chaos erupted and riot police opened fire.

An angry and injured resident Berenice September said she would continue to fight till the end.

“I am still not going anywhere, they can shoot all they want!” she shouted.

Two men, visibly injured and one barely able to breathe, were locked in the back of a police van while residents pleaded with the police saying the two men required medical attention.

An altercation ensued between a Cape Argus reporter and the police when she inquired as to why the men were locked up and if they were going to receive medical attention.

Placard-carrying children had initially formed a barrier between the crowd and police before the violence erupted.

Pastor Shireen Horne of the Tehillah Community Collaborative in Elsies River said they would be pressing charges against the police.

She said the children were being placed under unnecessary stress by being evicted from their homes and what was happening in Delft was contradictory to the new child law.

An evicted resident, Anthea Williams claimed that during the process of moving her possessions, police had taken everything she had, including her baby’s nappies and food. The goods were apparently taken to a depot at Blackheath.

“They took everything I have saying that they don’t want my things lying in the street. I don’t know what I’m going to do,” she said.

Throughout the morning, numerous residents cried that the government did not care for them and screamed racial slurs about the people they said were were going to move into “our homes”.

At midday on Tuesday, many families had left the area, with their possessions piled high on to cars and bakkies. But hundreds of families refused to leave the area, promising to return to the houses on Tuesday night.

Police spokesperson Andre Traut said the court order instructed the residents to leave the entire area which remained an incomplete construction site and it was thus illegal for them to remain on the street on Tuesday.

As each house was cleared by the eviction team this morning, makeshift wooden boards that were used as panes were knocked out of the windows and a guard was posted outside each empty house to prevent people from returning.

“I don’t know where we are going,” said William West. “We used to live in a backyard, but they don’t want us there anymore.”

“What rights do the brown people have?” asked neighbour Elwin Smit.

The Anti-Eviction Campaign’s Mncedisi Twalo said the occupants were due to meet to discuss a way forward.

“Obviously we are so upset. We had hoped that the judge would consider the history of the housing backlog,” he said.

The evictions took place over several square kilometres of the N2 Gateway project in Delft.

Hundreds of backyard dwellers from Delft, Belhar, Elsies River and Bonteheuwel, who said they had been waiting for promised housing for several years, moved into the unfinished houses in the N2 Gateway project two months ago.

Most of the houses have been reserved for Joe Slovo residents who had lost their informal homes in a Langa fire two years ago.

Instructing attorney for the dwellers William Booth said this morning that they were considering an appeal against the High Court decision in the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein, but that he was still waiting for specific instruction from his clients.

“There has been talk of taking the appeal route,” he said.

Thubelisha’s N2 Gateway general manager Prince Xhanti Sigcawu said on Tuesday that the company was waiting for the houses to be emptied and would send contractors to start repairs as early as Wedneday before the right beneficiaries (of the houses) can move in.

He estimated that it would cost them R20-million to repair the houses.

Sigcawu said Thubelisha was not going to penalise the illegal occupants as long as they moved out so the legal occupants could move in. - Additional reporting by Andisiwe Makinana, Dianne Hawker and Leila Samodien

policeshooting.jpg  img_3719small.jpg residents-lie-down-in-protest.jpg

Delft residents stranded

19 02 2008

by Verashni Pillay

19 February, 2008

Source: 24 News

Cape Town - Evicted Delft residents were stranded on the streets around the Delft N2 Gateway housing on Tuesday afternoon, with their belongings either broken or taken far away.

More than 1 000 backyard dwellers are illegally occupying unfinished government housing units in Delft. Police moved in early on Tuesday morning to aid the eviction process, carried out by the Sheriff of the Court.

On Monday the backyard dwellers’ application for leave to appeal the eviction order was dismissed in the Cape High Court.

“They don’t know where their belongings are going to. They don’t know where they are going to,” chairperson of the Western Cape anti-eviction campaign, Ashraf Cassiem told News24. “That’s why they’re just sitting where they are because they don’t have anywhere to go to.”

The Sheriff of the court, Mr J A Sassen, said that the belongings were taken to Saxenburg Storage facility in Blackheath.

“We explained to them we are going to store it in Saxenburg and they can go there and they can fetch it,” said Sassen.

However, Cassiem has not heard about the storage place at all and said that the day workers the sheriff had hired to carry out the evictions had broken many of the people’s possession.

Waiting for hospital treatment

Blackheath is about 15km away from where the people were, according to Cassiem, making it very difficult to retrieve their possessions.

Furthermore, there was no guarantee of finding one’s own possessions as many of the belongings were not tagged.

“When they took the stuff there was about eight different family’s stuff on one truck,” said Cassiem. “So how are you going to find your stuff?”

Meanwhile, the people who were shot and injured by police rubber bullets have yet to be treated at a nearby hospital, according to Cassiem.

“The doctors said they’re in a meeting and they can’t assist people now.”

The injured, amongst them a three-year-old boy who was shot in the foot, had been waiting for three hours for treatment at Delft Day Hospital according to Cassiem.

“They’re helping everyone else but not the people who were shot at,” he said.

The hospital could not be reached immediately for comment on Tuesday afternoon.

Minister of Housing Lindiwe Sisulu said in a statement that she had instructed building company, Thubelisha Homes, to do “everything in their power to assist the people of Delft who have occupied the newly built houses to move back to their previous places of accommodation”, and to provide them with transport for the relocation.

Nowhere to go

However, Thubelisha project manager Prince Xhanti denied that any such directive had been given when News24 contacted him on Tuesday.

He said the Sheriff of the Court was solely responsible for the people’s removal.

But Sassen said it was not his responsibility to ensure the people were taken somewhere.

“The order says I must evict the people and remove their belongings to a place of safe custody and that is what I did,” he said.

Many of the residents were sitting on the road outside the houses, with nowhere to go. Police were tasked with ensuring they did not re-occupy the houses.

Police brutality in Delft caught on tape

19 02 2008

Eyewitness footage by a community worker in Delft. This is video shot on his cell phone with a minute by minute account of how police opened fire on residents:

Video #1 - this was the situation about 10 seconds before the police started shooting. As you can see it is tense. However, there is no violence from any of the residents. The guy in the red shirt is a community leader with the Anti-Eviction Campaign. He is on the truck instructing residents to stay calm and sit down. Abut 10 seconds later, after someone tried to remove his mattress from the truck, the police started shooting into the crowd andstun grenades began exploding. The police claim that they were provoked by people throwing rocks, but as you can see, there were no rocks thrown at either police or the sheriff of the court before the police started shooting.

Video #2 - this was about 2 minutes after the first video was shot. As you can see, pretty much everyone has already run away. I took cover next to a group of media people assuming that the cops would not shoot at them. The cops were running after people and shooting at them even though everyone was running away and posed no threat to them. You can hear some gun shots in the video and some police running with their guns raise ready to shoot. At the end of the video, a policeman came running at me and the group of media with his gun raised. We ran away fearing we’d get shot (I personally was shot at about a minute earlier and was lucky not to get hit by the bullets).

Result: About 20 residents were shot. Most of these residents were women and children who were unable to avoid the bullets. Six children were shot and I personally brought three of them to the hospital. One of the children, who was only 3 years old, was shot three times and almost killed by the rubber bullets.

I also spoke with numerous residents who claimed a lady with a child in her hands was held at gunpoint by a police officer and ordered to run so he could shoot her from a non-lethal distance. She refused, lay down on the ground and curled up into a ball to protect her child. I spoke to this lady who confirmed that this was true.

Gympie Street residents arrested after move

4 12 2007

by adri-ann peters


Source: Peoples Post
EVICTED Gympie Street residents remain positive that their next court appearance will bring with it the prospect of a new home for themselves and their families.

Six families were evicted from a privately owned block of flats in Gympie Street, Woodstock, in April 2006.
The owner of the building applied to the Cape High Court for an eviction order, which forced the families to live on the street for about six weeks until they moved back in June 2006, explained Willy Heyn, chairperson of the Gympie Street residents’ coordinating committee. The building is said to be earmarked by the owner for renovations in preparation for the 2010 World Cup.

When living conditions became unbearable with many residents suffering from physical illness, they decided to stand together and move back into the building. But Sergeant Hilton Malila, police spokesperson for the Woodstock Police Station, confirmed that six warrants of arrest had been issued to be executed on the morning of 29 November. Willy Heyn, Margaret Petersen, Lydia Portland, Marietta Monagee, Sarah Jones and Zubeida Brown were taken to the police station and then escorted to the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court.

They were charged for contravening the court order, but were later released with a warning coupled with instructions to appear on 30 January, when their lawyer, Advocate Zehir Omar, arrives from Gauteng.
Omar said residents who do not have a place to stay have protection under current legislation. “If residents do not have a place to go, they are permitted according to the Prevention of Illegal Eviction and Unlawful Occupation Act to occupy that unoccupied building.

“They are not contravening the order, because they are living in a different address in the building,” he said.
Mzonke Poni from the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign agreed that the arrest executed by Woodstock police on Thursday was by no means a lawful one.

“This is not a criminal issue, it is a civil one and it should have been treated as such, according to civil procedures. The court should make their decision based on reports from both sides,” Poni said.

“The residents did not move back to the original flat units stipulated in the eviction order. Although it is the same building, it was not the same location, therefore proving the charge invalid. Poni said the group would help to resolve the matter through talks with the owner of the building.

The Gympie Street residents have also shown their support for Joe Slovo residents resisting forced removals.
Heyn continued that they would not give up. “We remain positive that things will work out for us. We want to stay in the building, but we’ll be willing to move to another suitable location,” he said.

People’s Post was unable to source comment from the owner of the building at the time of going to print. We undertake to publish this comment when it is forthcoming.