About 100 people who were evicted from a shelter in Eerste River have moved back in – with the help of the Patriotic Alliance.
The PA on Friday cut the chains off Geneva House, and moved the people, including 40 children, back in.
After their eviction in May, the mense erected makeshift shelters on a field next to the facility, living without running water, toilets or power, while being terrorised by skollies.
The icy winter conditions only made things worse.
An emotional Rolene Plaatjies, 29, says: “My daughter celebrated her first birthday out there in the cold with no proper roof over her head. I’m never going to let that happen again.”
The PA’s Mayoral Candidate, Ricardo Sedres, says they decided to assist residents after they saw their “horrible” living conditions.
“We couldn’t let them live outside while a building right in front of them was empty, these people are not animals,” he tells the Daily Voice.
“After a meeting last Thursday we decided to help them get in. Then Friday morning we broke the locks and let them in, gave them cleaning material to start cleaning up.
“The City had a responsibility to see to it that these people, some of whom are on the waiting list, get accommodated somewhere before they were thrown out.”
The Department of Social Development said the shelter had been closed after investigations revealed misuse of the facility, including gang activities and drug abuse.
Mother of two, Karin Adendrof, 25, says the past two months have been swaar for her and her kids.
“My youngest, who is only seven months old, has been in and out of the hospital with a bad cough caused by the cold from living outside for so long,” she says.
“When the opportunity to move back presented itself we took it because, being in here is much better than out there where drug dealers and users come and go as they please. I feel safer in here.”
Residents say the building has been vandalised since their eviction, with electricity cables, flooring boards and metal security gates stripped and stolen.
Sedres says on Saturday, police arrived to throw them out again, but they closed the gate and wouldn’t allow the cops in.
Spokesperson for the Department of Social Services, Sihle Ngobese, says they will take action once the matter is heard in court.
“This matter will have to go to court first, as the recent developments have broken a court order, and are unlawful.”
“The Department will then act in accordance with what the court determines.”