The Constitution guarantees the right to housing and the Constitutional Court has ruled that nobody may be evicted into homelessness – it is the obligation of the City of Cape Town to support evictees who will be made homeless.
Despite a housing crisis and ongoing evictions, the City of Cape Town has no long term plan to provide emergency accommodation for evictees.
Although in the Courts the City is arguing that alternative solutions to relocation camps are not feasible, outside of the Court the city has moved to develop two pilot transitional housing projects which can offer emergency accommodation to evictees. The City has indicated that it would like to roll this out across well-located areas with an operational policy.
The first project was completed at the end of 2018 on Pickwick Street.
WATCH: The first Transitional Housing Development for Woodstock & Saltriver on Pickwick Street. This paves a way for City of Cape Town to start building Social Housing in well-located areas for evictees, we say no to isolated relocation camps #NoToWolwerivier
Posted by Reclaim the City on Thursday, July 5, 2018
Ouma Delia has heard about Wolwerivier, now she takes us on a journey to visit the dusty relocation camp in Cape Town. The City still insists Wolwerivier is a good relocation camp for evictees. Four walls does not make home, where you live matters!
Posted by Reclaim the City on Friday, March 9, 2018
In 2006, the Old Biscuit Mill business complex and luxury goods market opened next to the Bromwell Street families’ homes. The opening of the Old Biscuit Mill ushered in an era of gentrification and rising property prices in Woodstock – a working class area, and one of the few neighbourhoods where black and coloured people were not forcibly removed from during apartheid.
In 2013, the Woodstock Hub, property developers who specialise in rental housing development, purchased the Bromwell Street homes. The tenants tried to find the directors of the Woodstock Hub, so that they could continue paying rent. Instead of meeting with the new tenants, the company’s directors, Jacques van Embden, Arthur Winkler and Arnold Shapiro, started court proceedings in July 2015 and secured an order to finally evict the tenants on 9 September 2016.
With days to go before the eviction of Bromwell Street’s families, supporters from Reclaim the City rallied to support them. On 27 September, we marched with the tenants and occupied the Saturday market at the Old Biscuit Mill. The Old Biscuit Mill occupation brought the struggle against evictions to the heart of gentrification, and attention in the media and on social media made this struggle a city-wide talking point.
With increasing pressure on her government to intervene and assist the Bromwell Street families, then Mayor Patricia de Lille called at their homes on 8 September. Although she committed to look into the possibility of rehousing the families in the Woodstock area, De Lille refused to acknowledge that her government has an obligation to do so. The City of Cape Town consider such evictions to be “private” matters, and that it therefore is absolved of any obligation to intervene or provide assistance.
Reclaim the City, the Bromwell families argue that the City has a constitutional obligation to provide Bromwell Street, and all evicted families facing homelessness in Woodstock, Salt River and the city, with temporary alternative accommodation in the area, when you consider the effect of their displacement to the periphery on their ability to earn and income and access services and opportunities.
On 23 September 2016, the Bromwell Street families, represented by the Ndifuna Ukwazi Law Centre, brought an urgent application before the Western Cape High Court, to stall the eviction while the court rules on the City’s obligation to provide the evicted families with emergency accommodation in the area.
After Acting Judge Weinkove step aside following an application that was brought for his recusal, the matter was argued again in September 2017 before Judge Sher. On the same day as that hearing, the Executive Mayor announced the City’s intentions to build social housing and transitional housing in the Woodstock and Salt River areas. The need for such housing as alternative accommodation in these areas is central to the Resident’s arguments and so the Mayor’s announcement was brought to the Court’s attention.
The effect was that the proceedings were halted so that Judge Sher could receive further information on the City’s plans for housing in the area and the City was asked to file further affidavits. Up until they argued that is was not possible at all.