Reclaim the City has successfully reclaimed three public buildings in the inner city and surrounds. Ahmed Kathrada House in Green Point, Cissie Gool House, in Woodstock and Irene Grootboom House in the city centre.
Why did Reclaim the City occupy public buildings?
We occupied public buildings because our members are desperate for housing. Because we cannot afford to pay our rents anymore. Because we don’t want to live on the street when we are evicted. Because we don’t want to be sent to relocation camps by the government to be forgotten. Because we are tired of living in distant informal settlements and townships. Because we have little land and no security.
We occupied public buildings because we too have a right to live in the City. A right to walk on the promenade and walk in the gardens. A right to have a view of the sea. A right to raise our children and care for our families in good areas where there are good schools and good hospitals. A right to be close to work and earn an income.We occupied public buildings because the City, the Province and the National Government have failed us. They say we must wait patiently and the land and housing will come. But it never does and most likely it never will unless we organise against the property power that maintains inequality and spatial apartheid.
We occupied public buildings because we want to bring the struggles of poor and working class Black and Coloured people back to the centre of our City, to the seat of power, and to the land that matters.
Altogether, Reclaim the City now provides housing to hundreds of people including many families with children and elderly people. Each occupier or family is allocated a room which they use as their home. Some rooms have toilets and water, other share communal services. Nobody pays rent in the occupations, but leaders do fundraise from time to time to pay for improvements and maintenance in the buildings.
Everybody who lives inside an occupation must be a member of Reclaim the City. House leaders are elected at Congress every year and are responsible to adopting and enforcing house rules to govern the house. The leadership committees are also responsible for organising meetings, maintaining a healthy, safe and secure environment (particularly for women, children and the elderly), discipline and access controls.
Ahmed Kathrada House
"I am a manager & I am working for one of biggest companies in the country, however, I am not able to afford to buy my own house and it has affected me so much to a point where I had to come & occupy."Bongi Mabala – Reclaim the City supporter.
Posted by Reclaim the City on Monday, July 23, 2018
Cissie Gool House
Those in power, the City and the province call us criminals, but we are just ordinary people living in Cissie Gool House. This is our journey to school.
Posted by Reclaim the City on Friday, October 12, 2018
Irene Grootboom House
Irene Grootboom House is at 104 Darling Street in the centre of town near to the Grand Parade. The building is owned by the National Department of Public Works but has been left derelict now for many years. Many residents have lived in the buildings for decades, others have recently arrived. Reclaim the City co-ordinating committee voted to adopt the House in 2017 and we are working to keep it clean and safe and repair damage from a fire that gutted to top floor a few years ago so that the roof doesn’t leak.
[WATCH] We have read the newspapers that the National Department of Transport & Public Works (DTPW) wants to renovate this 104 Darling Street building and put offices, while our people have nowhere else to go. We have been writing letters & going to DTPW to seek for help, we pleaded with them to renovate the build and provide basic services. Till this day they have not responded, in 2017 the third floor of the building caught fire, DTPW never assisted. Today we took it upon ourselves to clean the building and all we ask from you DTPW is to provide basic services.
Posted by Reclaim the City on Saturday, September 22, 2018
Irene Grootboom House represents the failure of the National Department to pro-actively manage its land and building portfolio in way that advances the right to housing and access to land on an equitable basis.