From the news desk

Domestic workers campaign for affordable housing in CBD

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As the City’s development expands, the sale of the Tafelberg School property continues to draw contestation.  On Tuesday, Reclaim the City held a protest at the legislature regarding this matter whilst Ndifuna Ukwazi, on Wednesday, hosted a demonstration in the CBD, on the corner of St. George and Long Street.

The activists are voicing their concern about the sale of the property of the Tafelberg School in Sea Point, which has been sold to a private developer. Housing activists are protesting against the land transfer and have instead advocated that the land be used for the development of affordable housing. Earlier this week, Reclaim the City submitted an application to the Western Cape High Court to stop the transfer of the property.

Spokesperson for Reclaim the City, Kopano Maroga, explained that the applicants are requesting that the Court denies the transfer of the property to the new owners and to compel the Premier of the Western Cape to formally explain the decision to sell the Tafelberg property.

The interdict cites procedural errors, which includes; the City’s non-compliance with placing a notice of disposal of land in an English, Afrikaans, and Xhosa newspaper, furthermore citing the fact that the land needs to be deemed ‘surplus’ once all provincial organs of government have been approached.

In addition, Ndifuna Ukwazi, which is an activist organisation and law centre that promotes the realisation of constitutional rights and social justice, is launching a Social Audit campaign to assess the affordability of housing; availability of accommodation; unfair rules, threats of eviction by owners, and increasing rent.

Organizer for Ndifuna Ukwazi, Nkosi Khona, explained that the campaign began following reports of complaints made by domestic workers who rent apartments in Sea point.

One domestic worker, Khona noted, resides in an apartment that is rented by her employers, who deny her the right to host visitors. The apartment’s new rules further restrict residents by denying them the right to cook in their apartments, as well as the freedom to do laundry.

“Bulelwa* is not allowed to cook in the building, cannot live with her son in the building, and cannot have visitors after certain hours. She has also been told that she is not allowed to wash her clothes in her flat, though she is able to finish her washing at work.”

Khona further explained that one landlord moved occupants without their consent. These occupants currently share one bathroom with 12 other residents.

Other issues faced by domestic workers residing in these apartments, includes; overcrowding, no electricity, and the lack of running water.

“They have to operate by candle light and make use of paraffin stoves to cook,” Khona affirmed.

One domestic worker stated that domestic workers are not requesting ‘free’ accommodation; instead, they are seeking ‘comfortable’ residence.

A representative for the Domestic Workers in Sea Point, Thandeka Sisusa (37), explained that domestic workers face numerous socio-economic problems.

She further contends that domestic workers are forced to reside in “small” quarters once they have completed a day’s work. These small quarters do not allow for family visitation and often leave domestic workers fending for themselves when they become ill.

“Numerous domestic workers are found dead because they became ill during the evening and have no one to assist them,” Sisusa explained.

“We see the Tafelberg area as land that can be used for low cost housing for domestic workers so that they may also live comfortably among other people within sea point,” Khona concluded.

VOC (Thakira Desai)



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