‘Fire left me with nothing’

5 02 2008
February 04 2008 at 04:57PM

By Niemah Davids and Asa Sokopo

Source: IOL

“I have nothing left, not a cent, not a piece of clothing, nothing. I wasn’t in time to save anything.”

This was how a mother of three small children, Nosipho Gowa, described the aftermath of a fire that ripped through the Joe Slovo informal settlement in Langa on Sunday night.

Gowa is one of the residents fighting a move to Delft.

Last night, some residents were still adamant that they would resist moving to temporary housing in Delft.

The government is embroiled in a legal battle to get the residents moved so that the next development of the flagship N2 Gateway housing project can take place.

About 250 families were driven out of their homes when the fire broke out at about 5.50pm.

Gowa, 45, who shares her home with her children and her sister, said she was at a church meeting when the fire broke out.

She was thankful no one was in the house when it started.

“I can only imagine what would would have happened if anyone was inside (the house). One of my children or my sister could have been badly hurt, even me,” she said.

Thomas Nsibi said he was in “shock” and could not believe he had nothing left besides the clothes on his back.

“This is a very sad time for me and my family,” he said.

This morning Western Cape Social Development MEC Koleka Mqulwana promised that relief funding would be provided for the estimated 250 families who were displaced .

“We are going to help people with packages of clothing, books and school uniforms.

At the informal settlement on Sunday night, some residents were adamant that they would resist moving to the government’s temporary housing in Delft.

The government is em-broiled in a legal battle to get the residents moved so that the next development of the flagship N2 Gateway housing project can take place.

A Joe Slovo on fire remains united

4 02 2008

img_3675editedsmall.jpgPress Release, Sunday 3 February 2008

Some 80 shacks were destroyed and hundreds were left homeless when a fire broke out in Joe Slovo informal settlement at about 5.30pm today. Fortunately, as a result of the quick reactions of residents, there were no casualties.

Joe Slovo residents have been resisting forced removal to Delft by Thubelisha Homes and this fire has not weakened their determination to remain in Joe Slovo and have the settlement upgraded. In fact, their determination to remain despite the continued risk of fires shows the strength of their feelings.

Those affected by the fire reiterated “Asiyi e Delft” (We are not going to Delft) at an open meeting after the fire.

Ward councillor Gope unsuccessfully attempted to hijack this meeting and undermine the Joe Slovo task team by offering a hall for those affected to stay in, and saying that materials for rebuilding could only be obtained through his good offices. The task team pointed out that it is a legal requirement for Disaster Management to provide a starter pack for rebuilding. The affected residents rejected the hall in favour of sleeping outside to keep their belongings safe.
The Joe Slovo task team is now in the process of obtaining lists of affected residents and reorganising the social structure of the settlement. Despite this disaster, the people of Joe Slovo and their elected leadership will push forward.


Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign Press Statement

28 01 2008
Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign Press Statement
Monday 28th January 2008 4pm

CAPE TOWN – About 1000 Delft residents who occupied “Breaking New Ground” homes in Delft on December 20th 2007 will appear in the Cape High Court again tomorrow.

As usual, all the residents will be coming to the court and will hold a rally outside.

The residents will continue to be represented by Ashraf Cassiem, Anti-Eviction Campaign Legal Co-ordinator, since they do not have money for an advocate. The residents are all demanding to stay in their homes that they have occupied. All residents have a moral and legal right to be in those homes, having been on the waiting list for as long as 20 years.

The Anti-Eviction Campaign also rejects Thubelisha Homes’ assertion that the Anti-Eviction Campaign is working with the DA. Our position is very clear “no house, no land, no job, no vote.” We don’t support any political party, we support the people. The Anti-Eviction Campaign has a long history of opposing both the DA and ANC’s identical housing, water and evictions policies.

For comment please call Ashraf Cassiem on

Newfields Village residents angered at Cape Town Community Housing broken promises

18 01 2008

CAPE TOWN - The Newfields Village Anti-Eviction Campaign is planning more protest action against the Cape Town Community Housing Company.

The residents from Newfields Village and nine other villages of “low cost housing” built by the Cape Town Community Housing Company already campaigned for years to force the government to allocate R46 million to repair the defects in their houses. These included crumbling walls, leaks, cracks and others. Their campaign included a massive and long running rent boycott.

The Cape Town Community Housing Company agreed in writing with the community that the workers employed to fix the defects would be 50% contract workers and 50% workers hired from the community. However, they have reneged on their own written agreement and only 6% of the workers are to be hired from the community. The Cape Town Community Housing Company says that these will be labourers only - artisans will be hired from companies.

The Newfields Village Anti-Eviction Campaign has uncovered that the person in charge of the repair process has a 40% share in ABE, a company that has been suddenly hired to repaint all the defective houses.

The Newfields Village Anti-Eviction Campaign is very angry about this and demands an end to this corruption, and jobs for the community, failing which they have vowed to chase all contractors out of the area.


For comment call Gary Hartzenberg on

Hout Bay shack dwellers plan resistance to forced removal

18 01 2008

Writer: Celeste Ganga
Source: Bush Radio

About 75 shack dwellers and one family living in a house in a section of Hangberg in Hout Bay, Cape Town are facing eviction from their land by South African Sea Products.

“The community is angered and intends to resist the forced removal because they say that some of the land belongs to the City and not to South African Sea Products, so the company does not have the right to evict them” says Chairperson of the Hangberg Solution Seekers Association (a community organisation), Michelle Yon.

She adds that most of the residents work in Hout Bay as fishermen and some work as casuals at the company itself. Yon goes on to say that they will not allow South African Sea Products to forcibly remove them without alternative accommodation being provided.

“The community tried already to buy the hostel themselves to set up a low cost housing project and were under the impression that the company would still sell it to them,” explains Yon.

The community will appear in the Cape High Court on Tuesday (29 January 200 8)to oppose the eviction order. They will be assisted by the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign.

Attempts to get hold of South African Sea Products were unsuccessful.

Communities are placing their own stamp on the N2 Gateway project

2 01 2008

Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign Press Statement
January 2nd 2008

On 3rd January more than 1000 backyarders from Delft and other areas of Cape Town, who occupied N2 Gateway houses in Delft before Christmas and were granted a stay of eviction by the Cape High Court, return to the Court.

They claim that the order through which first the Cape Town City Council and then Thubelisha Homes tried to evict them was invalid and hence the evictions were illegal. They want to stop the evictions altogether.

Their occupation was sparked by a visit from Housing Minister to Delft on 16 December, when she handed over keys to former Joe Slovo residents for these houses, totally ignoring that 30% of them had been promised to Delft backyarders.

The backyarders plan a march from Kaisergracht to the High Court and will be joined by other communities. These will include residents of Joe Slovo informal settlement, for whom the N2 Gateway Delft houses were ultimately intended by government and Thubelisha, and who are resisting eviction to Delft. Joe Slovo residents want houses built for them in Joe Slovo and support the claims of the backyarders to the Delft houses.

Other communities, including residents of N2 Gateway Phase 1, Mitchells Plain, Gugulethu, Khayelitsha, Athlone etc, are also supporting the Delft backyarders in their occupation. Everyone is welcome to participate in support.

Thubelisha Homes were refused a new eviction order by the Cape High Court on 24 December and may well try to apply for such an order again on 3rd January. This will be opposed by the Delft backyarders, just as Joe Slovo residents opposed the attempt by Sisulu, MEC Richard Dyantyi and Thubelisha Homes to get an urgent eviction order against them last year. This means that the Delft backyarders will not in any event face immediate eviction. The Joe Slovo case was eventually heard in December and the Cape High Court is likely to make a judgement on 15 January.

Delft backyarders also plan to sue the relevant authorities for damages for the illegal evictions.

N2 Gateway is proclaimed as a “pilot project” which is supposed to be susceptible to change when mistakes are made. As long ago as July 2005 the residents of Boys Town, Crossroads, occupied the N2 in protest against plans to move them into flats as part of the project. Since then, however, Sisulu, Dyantyi and Thubelisha Homes have been deaf to all the views expressed by affected communities and dogmatically proceeded with their own plans — even though one of Thubelisha Homes proclaimed values is “flexibility”: “Our ever-changing environment requires us to be adaptable, innovative, and bold in order to remain effective and to seize opportunities.” Now affected communities are placing their own stamp on events and demanding the housing that they require.

Already, in response to the mass protests by Joe Slovo residents, Thubelisha Homes has announced that it has reduced the number of FNB-sponsored bond houses that will be built in Joe Slovo from 200 to 35! With more flexibility, it would be possible to accomodate the demands of residents of Joe Slovo as well as the Delft backyarders. But for this, Sisulu, Dyantyi and Thubelisha must withdraw their eviction plans and engage in serious negotiations with all the affected communities.

For more information contact Ashraf Cassiem

Mcnedise Twala

Mzonke Poni

Pamela Beukes

Major victory in Delft! High Court judge issues interim order preventing any evictions!

24 12 2007

Delft Occupiers At the Bellville Court Protesting at the Arrest of 5 People for Resisting Eviction

Delft Occupiers At the Bellville Court Protesting at the Arrest of 5 People for Resisting Eviction

Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign Press Release
24th December 2007

In a major victory for about 1000 backyard dwellers and the homeless residents of Delft, the Cape High Court granted an interim order at 5pm today (21/12/2007) interdicting anyone from evicting or threatening to evict those residents who occupied the newly built houses in Delft last week.

The ruling temporarily suspends the eviction order of 30th October 2006 that the police, for the past week, have been using to threaten, intimidate and evict the residents.

The residents will appear in court again on the 3rd of January 2008 to hear the judge’s final ruling.

The state, including Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister of Housing (who yesterday instructed the police to “clear out” the residents); Thubelisha Homes; and any associated company or individual are now totally forbidden from threatening or trying to evict the residents.

In addition, the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign is delighted that the same judge denied Thubelisha Homes application for a new eviction order.

Although this is a short term victory, it is a very positive ruling in the sense that:

1. It clearly prevents the DA and ANC from choosing to act unlawfully by simply unleashing huge amounts of police and private security on poor and vulnerable communities to evict them, whereas they know very well that they are supposed to seek a High Court eviction order.

2. It shows that organised communities are clearly against the ludicrous ANC/DA forced removal plan (which goes by the name of N2 Gateway project) and that they are not going to stop resisting it, and hence the ANC/DA must shelve this plan and consult with communities towards a real solution that provides houses for all (and not some cosmetic solution that sees a couple of expensive showhouses built along the highway while everyone else gets dumped in the sand in the back of Delft, out of sight).

3. It shows that communities are not going to be deterred from using the High Court by the high cost of overpriced advocates - in this case four Anti-Eviction Campaign working class activists worked through the nights for the whole weekend collecting over 800 affidavits to bring an interim interdict against the state, and presenting the case to the Judge.

The police may now face a damages claim since they were informed by the Anti-Eviction Campaign this afternoon that they must hold off on evicting people, since the matter was being heard in the High Court. The police, however, refused and in fact broke the law by breaking into the houses and removing peoples’ furniture, which was damaged.


For comment please call Ashraf Cassiem, Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign paralegal on or Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign activists Mzonke Poni on or Mncedisi Twala on or Pamela Beukes on .

Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign and Delft Residents on their Way to Seek Court Interdict


The Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign and residents of Delft who occupied the new houses last week, are on their way to the Cape High Court to seek an urgent Rule Nisi preventing Minister of Housing Lindiwe Sisulu, from forcibly removing them at 9am this morning.

The Campaign is confident of success since the State does not have an eviction order.

About 1000 long suffering backyard dwellers of Delft occupied the houses last week. Although police removed them by force, unlawfully since they had no eviction order, the residents re-occupied the houses on the weekend.

At 4am this morning massive amounts of private security and police and army entered the area and started preparing to evict people again. Yesterday, a Mr Kolbi () who is a manager with one of the construction companies working there threatened people with physical violence for most of the day, and tried to evict them himself.

Thus we see the ANC’s application of their “rule of law” - private individuals are allowed to roam around freely threatening the vulnerable (Kolbi is not the sheriff of the court who does not have a court order to evict people anyway), the state deploys large amounts of forces to evict without a court order, and forced removals are the order of the day.

For info from the court call Ashraf Cassiem on

Major Clash Expected in Delft Tomorrow - 4 truck loads of police move in to evict 1000 people

Press Alert
Sunday 23 December 2007

DELFT, CAPE TOWN - A major clash looks likely to take place tomorrow (Monday 24th December 2007) from early in the morning in Delft, Cape Town.

Today, Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister of Housing, gave the instruction to Thubelisha Homes and the SA Police to decisively remove all 1000 people who have occupied the 500 newly built BNG houses in Delft.

Shortly after she gave this instruction, four truckloads of soldiers stationed themselves at Delft police station.

We must point out that this looming eviction will be completely illegal. There is absolutely no eviction order from the court that would authorise the government to evict these residents.

This also shows that the new Zuma led ANC is no better than the Mbeki led ANC, since the new ANC National Executive Committee has done nothing to try and resolve this situation. Once again, it is a case of unleashing huge amounts of police and soldiers to brutalise people who are out of sight of the public.

However, tomorrow’s police brutality will not go unnoticed. The community has appealed for support from other communities tomorrow morning and many people will attend.

They will also be holding a demonstration outside the Bellville Magistrates Court where three Delft activists will appear having been arrested last week for occupying the houses.

The people of Delft have been promised houses for almost 14 years by the ANC government and by every different municipal government in Cape Town and they have every right to take over those houses which are standing empty. Like other communities in SA, Delft is in a crisis. It is extremely overcrowded and people are desperate for housing. The government has made a very foolish blunder by proposing to leave the homeless of Delft in their backyards and forcibly remove the people of Joe Slovo to Delft, where they do not want to go.

Access Photographs of Christmas Ave Eviction in Delft!