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A Salt River resident: “The City would have to carry my body out of this house”

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By Kouthar Sambo

Salt River residents have been up in arms following claims of multiple residents on the verge of alleged evictions in Shelley Street. A representative for the Shelley Street Anti-eviction Committee Sheradia Brown, who has been in the area for over 30 years, told VOC News the City of Cape Town (COCT) has been sending individuals into their homes for viewings while failing to give its residents first privilege to buy the property.

“The lease states that if the City is going to sell the houses, the tenants should get the first privilege. As a matter of fact, the City would have to carry my body out of this house before I would move,” said Brown.

According to Brown, not all residents have been issued the same letter as some letters claim “unlawful occupation” while others state “termination of lease” and urging residents to sell the property.

“My letter states differently to my neighbour’s letter as her letter states she is occupying the house unlawfully as it is her mother’s house. We then went into the council to address the various letters being received from the City. We were then told to email the letters to the City and it will be addressed from there,” detailed Brown.

“None of the residents skipped rental payments and no warning was received from the City to alert us in advance. We just got this letter suddenly. The people in the Bonteheuwel got all of their houses for free, why can’t we get our houses for free in Salt River?” challenged Brown.

Meanwhile, in response to the residents’ concerns, the City said it has informed residents of its intention to potentially dispose of the properties as they form a “surplus to the City’s requirements.”

“The disposal method has not been decided upon. The City will be engaging the occupants and it is too early in the process to speculate about matters such as alternative accommodation,” said the City.

“Most recently, the City released the New Market Street property (sixth inner city property) for social housing development following City Council approval on 12 June (2024). The 9 000 square metre New Market Street property in Woodstock will yield 375 social housing units and over 350 open market residential units on the verge of Cape Town’s CBD,” outlined the City.

According to the City, the plan forms part of its agenda to enable more social housing in well-located areas.

“Sites include New Market Street, Pine Road, Dillon Lane, and Pickwick in Woodstock, as well as Salt River Market and the now tenanted Maitland Mews development, with more in the pipeline,” added the City.

Furthermore, an executive member from the Salt River Resident Association (SRRA) Sulaiman Appoles, deemed the matter as an “eviction.”

“A total of nine houses in Shelley Street consist of occupants who received letters informing them of the intention to sell the City-owned property. According to the City, these houses are surplus to their need and they have decided to dispose of them,” explained Appoles.

Most of these residents are living in these houses for at least 30 years, some 60 years, he explained, and most (if not all) are pensioners.

“One resident, in particular, is suffering from terminal cancer, stage four, yet they are facing eviction after plus 30 to 40 years after uninterrupted residence in these City-owned properties.”

Additionally, he added that the SRRA is vehemently opposed to the private sale of the properties as the association advocates for the property to be handed over to the current occupants.

“We are fighting for these tenants to continue staying in these houses, alternately, the properties can be given to the tenants as this has taken place in other areas,” remarked Appoles

“Our plan is to involve the community-based organisations, such as, to name a few, the Salt River Heritage Society and various Mosque Committees, in this struggle. The matter is part of conduct from the City, as this will be replicated throughout Salt River,” asserted Appoles.

*This is still a developing story

 

Image Source: Future Cape Town


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