The Bromwell Street tenants facing eviction will be able to enjoy a last Christmas and New Year in their old homes.
The Woodstock residents appeared in the Western Cape High Court yesterday where, in a victory for them, the City of Cape Town admitted to having a duty to provide emergency accommodation in response to the private evictions.
The City, tenants and the Woodstock Hub agreed to hold more discussions to try and limit the number of tenants who might need emergency housing.
In a statement, Ndifuna Ukwazi, an organisation aiding the tenants, says: “What is still to be argued when the parties return to court on 31 January 2017, is the question of where this emergency accommodation will be made available and when.”
Tenants argued that the City has a constitutional obligation to provide temporary alternative accommodation to evicted mense in an area as close as possible to their homes.
The organisation said the City has proposed a relocation to Wolwerivier, which it found totally unsuitable.
On Sunday, a group of residents visited Wolwerivier, a West Coast temporary relocation area 35km out of Cape Town.
But the tenants were shocked by conditions in the remote shanty town.
The Hub bought the five semi-detached cottage properties in Bromwell Street two years ago and the
tenants were given an eviction order for September 26.
However, Ndifuna Ukwazi made an urgent high court application asking for a stay, and for the City to be held liable to provide alternative housing to all the 28 families.
Judge Leslie Weinkoue yesterday found the City was bending over backwards to assist the tenants, while The Hub was being too harsh in their deliberations with people who will be left homeless by the eviction.
The Hub’s lawyer, Advocate Ross Randall, said his clients were losing money while the tenants continued to occupy the property, which has been earmarked for mid-income flats. He requested the tenants pay for his legal fees incurred.
But Judge Weinkoue said: “I cannot put these people out and place them under a bridge and you cannot get blood out of stone. These are not rich people. At the end of the day, our constitution will not allow this.”
Representing the City, Advocate Karrisha Pillay asked the tenants, 43 adults and 19 children, to cooperate and apply for social housing.
“The City wants to ensure that the residents have every opportunity available and make the most of the help offered to them.”
Resident Charnelle Commando left court looking mildly satisfied.
“I will at least be home for Christmas and the new year. We will stand together until the end of this thing. We will not waver. This is not just for Bromwell but for all people ill-treated by big companies and organisations,” she said.
Spokesperson to the mayor of Cape Town Pierrinne Leukes confirms: “If the tenants do not fall within any of the housing opportunities provided by the CoCT, Wolwerivier is the proposed area for emergency housing.”