Three Hundred Cape Town Shackdwellers Face Eviction

Zille Rain Heights Residents Association Press Release

Friday 12th January 2007

5pm

Contact for comment:

Lorraine Heunis, Zille Rain Heights Residents Association – 083 4319794

Eleanor Hoedemaker, Zille Rain Heights Residents Association – 072 4490436

Gary Hartzenberg, Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign – 072 392 5859

Ashraf Cassiem, Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign – 082 4805489

PARKWOOD, CAPE TOWN – About 300 shackdwelling residents face a forced removal by the City of Cape Town to a wasteland without water, houses, roads, sanitation, electricity, clinics, schools, transport, churches or mosques 45 kms from their current home in two weeks time.

This after an official at the Cape Town Legal Aid Office, Nompumelelo Qotole, refused to allow the Zille Rain Heights community access to legal aid to contest the eviction order against them being sought by Mayor Helen Zille.

Ms Qotole also refused to give the community representatives a letter to show the court that they had sought assistance from legal aid, and said that the services of the Legal Aid Office were "fully booked up" before ejecting the community representatives from the office.

The residents are due to appear in the Cape Town High Court on 25th January 2007 to contest the eviction order sought by the city which was postponed on December 8th 2006. The community representatives have spent their whole festive season going from one public interest law centre to another seeking an advocate to represent them in court, but to no avail, mainly because all attorneys were on leave. The community representatives have requested Fairbridges, who represent the City of Cape Town, to agree to a postponement, but the legal firm has refused.

Ms Qotole from Legal Aid has acted unfairly since the office is supposed to service all those who cannot afford their own legal representation. "This just proves that justice is only for the rich", Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign representative Gary Hartzenberg said today.

Shortly after Helen Zille took office in March 2006, she forcibly removed this shackdwelling community from one piece of land in the Parkwood area, to another piece of land. Many residents were injured by the Metro Police during the eviction and lost most of their belongings. Zille then promised the residents they would be housed in a pilot project in nearby Pelican Park. However, it soon became clear that she had made the same promise to many other shackdwellers in the area. A few months after the forced removal, City officials informed the community that they had to move to Happy Valley, past Mfuleni, many kilometres away from where they currently live.

Happy Valley has not one basic service and the City is only prepared to offer the residents, some of whom have lived in shacks for 35 years, a "starter pack" of three wooden poles and a piece of plastic sheeting. From this, the residents are supposed to build their new homes.

The community refused to move to Happy Valley and were thus served with the eviction order, meaning they will face their second forced removal.

The Cape Town Anti-War Coalition joins the Zille Rain Heights Residents Association and the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign in condemning the apartheid style forced removal practices of the Zille regime, and demands an end to the use of hundreds of police in unjust evictions, and houses for all.

…/ends

For comment:

Lorraine Heunis, Zille Rain Heights Residents Association – 083 4319794

Eleanor Hoedemaker, Zille Rain Heights Residents Association – 072 4490436

Gary Hartzenberg, Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign – 072 392 5859

Ashraf Cassiem, Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign – 082 4805489

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