Abahlali will be in the Constitutional Court today

27 February 2024
Abahlali baseMjondolo press statement

Abahlali will be in the Constitutional Court today

The right to the cities, to live in the cities and to shape the cities from below, continues to be denied to many in our country thirty years after apartheid. Along with oppression by a predatory political class the poor continue to face brutal evictions in the form of gentrification by capital whose interests are in maximising private profit at the expense of the poor.

Cities are built by the poor and working class but they often cannot afford to live in the cities because the rent is too expensive for ordinary families. Capital is brutal and has no mercy for the poor. It is inhuman.

Bromwell Street residents in Cape Town have been living in the area for generations. They were raised there and continue to live in the area. They have rejected all attempts to force them out of the city and into the human dumping grounds outside the city but are now facing forced removal from the city because the land on which they live is valuable to capital and profit is being put before people and the City of Cape Town does not believe that poor black people should be living in central Cape Town.

In 2014 families living in Bromwell Street in the Cape Town city centre were served with an eviction order after their homes were brought by a property development company. In 2016 the Cape High Court ordered their eviction. The court wanted them to be moved far outside the city, 25 km away.

The residents went to court to oppose the attempt to remove them from the city and in  September 2021 the Western Cape High Court found that the City of Cape Town’s Housing Programme was arbitrary and unlawful, and ordered the City to provide the applicants with temporary emergency accommodation in Woodstock, Salt River or in the inner city precinct.

The anti-poor and anti-black City of Cape Town appealed the Cape Town High court judgement because they do not want the poor to live in central Cape Town. In February last year the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that the Bromwell Street families should be evicted and dumped in shack settlements far outside the city. The Supreme Court decision also overturned the Western Cape High Court’s decision that the City of Cape Town’s Housing Programme was arbitrary and unlawful.

Today the residents will ask the Constitutional Court to overturn the decision by the Supreme Court of Appeal. The central issue before the Court is the location of alternative accommodation provided after an eviction. Abahlali baseMjondolo has been admitted as a friend of the court and, represented by the Socio-Economic Rights Institute, will ask the Constitutional Court to rule that the Bromwell Street residents must be housed in the Cape Town city centre where they have always lived.

The oppressed will continue to suffer for as long as land and housing are commodified. For as long as the social value of land and housing comes after their commercial value, and for as long as profit is placed before people, the poor and the working class will continue to be forced out of the cities by capital. Thirty years after apartheid we still see the same old logic of apartheid oppressing the residents of Bromwell Street who are facing forced removal to the human dumping grounds far from the city centre.


Mqapheli Bonono 073 067 3274
Bathabile Makhoba 081 360 2461