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Bromwell residents refuse eviction to ‘the bush’

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Bromwell Street residents, who are facing eviction from their Woodstock homes, have requested a postponement in the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday. Judge Leslie Weinkove approved the postponement application, stating that the case will reappear in the High Court on the 30 January 2017. In the interim, the residents are required to apply for accommodation in the Social Housing Development  and GAP Housing Departments.

Representative of the Bromwell residents, Advocate Sheldon Mugardie requested that the case be postponed for a few weeks.

The residents of Bromwell Street gathered outside the High Court to express their dissatisfaction with the eviction notice. Gathering from what the residents testified to, it seems they are more dissatisfied with the proposed location, Wolverivier.

Meanwhile, spokesperson for the Bromwell residents, Graham Beukes states that the primary objective of the presence of the residents is to stop the evictions.

“We want to stop the evictions in Woodstock, because it is not only about us. It is about the complete Woodstock and Salt River [areas].  In Station Road, a property has already been bought and there are residents living in that building who are now also facing evictions,” Beukes said.

“We are standing up against developers who just come here and buy people out of their houses. Ultimately, we have no say because money talks… and we don’t have money,” he added.

Activist and resident of Bromwell Street, Chanelle Commando refers to Wolverivier as, ‘the bush’. She is adamant that the community will stick together, despite the outcome of the court case.

She particularly makes reference to Brenda Smit, a 76-year-old resident, who has been living in Bromwell Street her entire life.

“Today we are standing here together as a close knit community of Woostock.  We are not going to stay in the bush, because there is nothing for our children; there are no shops, no schools and no life,”

“Whatever the outcome of the court case may be, we are still going to remain the close-knit community. Nothing is going to break us, not even the Woostock Hub [company that purchased the property] that says we can’t stay there. We are still going to stick together,” she affirmed.

55-Year-old Sofie Masielo speaking on behalf of 76-year-old Brenda Smit, highlights the challenges that Smit will face if they were to relocate.  Moreover, she touches on the impact that the relocation would have on her and her family.

“Aunty Brenda Smit is very unhappy with what’s happening to her right now. She regularly attends the Woodstock Hospital. Everything here is near to her. Friday morning I saw her queuing for her SASSA money. She’s stressing about the eviction and she can’t sleep at night. What’s happening to her is a terrible experience.”

“Likewise, it is stressful for me. I have lived here for 55 years. I also attend the hospital and I have three grandchildren who attend school here. It is convenient, because I can fetch my grandchildren from school in the afternoons. We have lots of fun in the streets and we are all close to each other. We don’t quarrel, but what is happening now [with the eviction]… we just have to wait and see what happens [in terms of the court verdict]. This is very unfair,” she said.

Venessa Commando, a 48-Year-old resident of Bromwell Street, explains what the impact of the eviction would have on her and her family.

“I don’t feel very good about the eviction, because my whole life is in Bromwell Street. I was born there and my parents were born there too. They have passed away.  My friends and my children have all grown up in Woodstock.  Since the eviction surfaced, everything has changed.  The place is not the same as it was before.  Wolverivier is definitely not the place for us.  There’s no public transport and no schools. I don’t think we’d survive there. Here, everything we need is close-by.”

Ultimately, Beukes feels uplifted after the postponement was granted and was relieved to know that the residents will be spending Christmas and New Year’s Day at home.

Weinkove commended the residents and the City of Cape Town for cooperating in making the court case run smoothly.

VOC (Ra-ees Moerat)

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