‘ I can’t help all of you’



September 14, 2016
‘ I can’t help all of you’

City Mayor Patricia de Lille

Three lease holders on city's housing list.

Hope is running out for the tenants of Bromwell Street in Woodstock, who are facing eviction at the end of this month.

Yesterday, the City of Cape Town said it is not able to help the 28 families as a group.

Instead, Mayor Patricia de Lille, who stepped into the fray last week, said she would only be able to assist the five lease holders of the block of five semi-detached houses earmarked for demolition, on an individual basis.

De Lille says they have identified the five tenants of 122 to 130 Bromwell Street, and investigated whether they were on the City’s housing list.

De Lille said only three were on the list, while a fourth tenant was offered alternative accommodation, which she refused.

The plots were bought by property developers,The Hub, two years ago.

The Hub, who plans to build a middle-income apartment block, gave the tenants two years to find alternative accommodation. According to De Lille, Rene Smith and Graham Beukes have been on the housing database since 2006, while Willem Nel’s wife applied in 2005.

Sulaiman Goliath and Brenda Smith were not on the housing database.

In a statement, De Lille says: “According to our policies and the circumstances of these five families, four of these families qualify to apply for Social Housing opportunities. These opportunities are subject to the acceptance of the tenants.

“Brenda Smith has been provided with an opportunity by the Western Cape Government. She was offered a house in a Pelican Park which she refused.

“The City has plans to build two Social Housing developments within the next 18 months. The Bromwell families will be encouraged to apply when allocation takes place.”

De Lille did not want to reveal any more details about the new housing developments.

After two years of wrangling with The Hub owners, tenants were given a final stay in eviction until September 26, after De Lille intervened.

The mayor made it clear that the court-ordered eviction did not compel the City to provide alternative accommodation.

“I intervened in the hopes of mediating between the owners and the tenants and finding an amicable solution, respecting the rights of all the parties involved,” she says.

“Our allocation policy stipulates that we must deal with applications on an individual basis. We cannot assist residents in groups.”

Neither the tenants’ spokeswoman Charnell Commando, nor civil organisation Reclaim the City wanted to comment on the mayor’s statement ahead of a meeting with The Hub last night.

Reclaim the City’s Daneel Knoetze says: “For now, suffice it to say that there has not yet been a tangible offer of alternative accommodation from the City in the Woodstock area. This remains a key concern and demand from the tenants.”

Meanwhile, Cosatu Western Cape secretary general Tony Ehrenreich claims De Lille only stepped into the Bromwell saga because the Democratic Alliance fears Premier Helen Zille would be “exposed as having given state land to white developers at reduced prices”.

“The Mayor’s actions now are just a cover-up. The City jewels are being given to private developers at a pittance to ensure that they build high-cost developments to gentrify the areas in the City Bowl and push out poorer communities.”

“This gentrification is meant to introduce a whole new brand of forced removals in Cape Town is driven by the DA and their friends in big business who pay their bills.

“This is why the DA won’t reveal who their political funders are because they have been captured by big white business interest in Cape Town.”

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