Category Archives: Babalo Ndenze

Defiant District Six residents refuse to move

Cape Times 23 April 2007

Forced removal: Some of the District Six in Cape Town resident hold a rally in the area to protest against their pending eviction. Photo: Andrew Ingram, Cape Times

Some of the last residents of District Six in Cape Town held a rally in the area on Sunday to protest against their pending eviction.

The deadline for tenants to move out of 17 historic District Six cottages was on February 28 but nothing has happened to date.

The cottages situated between Pontac, Nelson and Aspeling streets are owned by Omargee Mohamed Omar.

The land was initially inherited by Omargee Omar and his seven brothers under their father Essop Mohammed Omar’s Will Trust. Omargee was the only brother to become a trustee.

As the sole trustee, Omargee Omar has rights to sell his property. It would be the new owner’s prerogative whether or not to keep the tenants.

Maggie George, spokesperson for the residents, said the rally was to raise awareness about their eviction.

“We had to be out of here on February 28. That’s when we started to negotiate and talk to people from the Anti-Eviction Campaign and everybody. Look at auntie Lena (Abrahams) for instance, she’s turning 99 in December. She was seven years-old when she moved in here. They are the last of the original residents,” George said.

She said offers to purchase the cottages have been rejected.

“We are not saying they can’t sell their properties, not again. But there are other alternatives,” said George.

Lena Abrahams’s daughter Veronica Bart said she couldn’t understand why the trustees were planning on evicting them when government was moving people back into the area.

“Another strange thing is that they still accept rent when we pay them,” Bart said.

The cottages have been valued at about R10 million.

Anti-Eviction Campaign spokesperson Ashraf Cassiem said their organisation was not in a position to help them legally, but would give its full support to the elderly residents.

“We want to show that there are people out there with compassion.

“What we want to do is to highlight the eviction of the 17 residents of which 15 are pensioners.

“What we are doing here is to show solidarity with the pensioners. It’s sad to see our national democratic state doing nothing to protect its people. This is not only a place of eviction, this is an historic site,” he said.

SA Heritage Resource Agency (Sahra) said District Six was a Grade One site.

This means that declaration of it as a national heritage site would follow soon.

Former District Six resident Faldie Meyer said who attended the rally said his family was one of the first ones to be removed under the Group Areas Act of 1950, an act created under the apartheid system that assigned races to different residential and business areas.

This act was finally repealed on June 5, 1991, 41 years later.

Hall dwellers say Cape council ‘insensitive’

This article was originally published on page 4 of Cape Times on January 30, 2006

Cape Times

30 Jan 2006

Hall dwellers say Cape council ‘insensitive’ Babalo Ndenze
January 30 2006 at 10:10AM

Few home comforts: Lucinda Lorie does her school work on her family’s bed in the crowded and run-down Belhar community hall that has become her temporary home. Photo: Lulama Zenzile, Cape Times
As living conditions worsen in the community hall that has housed 118 Belhar backyard dwellers for the past seven months, they accuse the city council of being “insensitive” for failing to meet them for months.

The group decided to occupy the hall illegally in protest at living in backyards while other communities were given housing last year.

The group is to be integrated into the Symphony housing project in Delft once it is complete by about April, but they want to move from the hall earlier and be given temporary shelter.

Soon after moving into the hall in July, the frustrated backyard dwellers complained about the council’s earlier proposal to integrate them into the N2 Gateway Project.

Steven Levendal, spokesperson for the Belhar backyard dwellers, said the council’s housing department last had talks with them in October last year.

“Since then they have never met us. They sent a representative to receive our memorandum and he said he would come back to us in seven days.

“This is an indication of council’s insensitivity to the issue of the plight of these people for the past seven months,” said Levendal.

He said their committee had met the council’s director for human settlements Seth Maqethuka about the Symphony housing project in Delft.

“We also put forward a proposal to the City to erect a temporary settlement before we go to the Symphony project.

“We have also identified an erf where we can build temporary houses.”

Those living in the hall include three women suffering from diabetes and another who is terminally ill.

The hall ceiling has turned a yellowish colour from the moisture, due to lack ! of ventilation.

Only one shower and one toilet are functioning. Alcohol and drug abuse have soared.

“There is no ventilation in the hall, the toilets are inefficient, the washing basins are blocked, privacy is a huge problem and there is abuse of liquor in the hall,” said Levendal.

An ill and emaciated Patricia Boyder said: “I’m not in good health. The conditions are not fit for a sick person to live in. I’ve been living here for six months.”

Neither council spokesperson Sputnik Ratau nor Maqethuka could be reached for comment on Sunday.