Bromwell residents reject City’s transit camps as fight reaches ConCourt

Bromwell Street in Woodstock. Picture: Brenton Geach

Bromwell Street in Woodstock. Picture: Brenton Geach

Published Mar 2, 2024


Cape Town - Residents of Bromwell Street say they refuse to be dumped in Blikkiesdorp or Kampies and Wolwerivier informal settlement where poverty, crime and sickness are rife and will continue to fight for their human rights.

This week, judgment was reserved in the eight-year eviction battle between Bromwell Street residents, the City of Cape Town and Woodstock Hub.

The parties are battling a call for temporary social housing to be provided to the affected families in the CBD.

The 25 residents, with 17 children, have done their research on the City's, Temporary Relocation Areas (TRA) in Cape Town and visited sites where they were left horrified to see living conditions in sites that were initially proposed as a social housing solution for them.

They have made the rental flats their homes for decades, many of the oldest tenants have died as the battle continues in the Constitutional Court.

Charnell Commando, who is the lead applicant in the hearing, said leaving their homes would cause family bonds to disappear and they would be flung into a humanitarian crisis in communities where they would be faced with crime and sickness, daily.

“Some people actually went into depression, the anxiety is too much and they are not talking about how they are feeling and how pressure of the eviction case has affected them,” she said.

“In Wolwerivier (30km from the inner-city), we went to look at conditions there, it would be inhumane for us to be moved there.

“In Kampies in Philippi, the stench was so bad.

“We cannot let the City dump us there. We don't want to become another Kampies, another Wolwerivier or Blikkiesdorp. There is sickness in these camps such as TB. It will be a total violation of human rights,” she said.

“The Hub mentioned in their comments … this area will be redeveloped but if they (investors) knew they were going to struggle with evictions, they would have never bought the property.”

Earlier, the City confirmed Blikkiesdorp was home to 1837 families with 1 500 structures and 337 backyard dwellings. The number has since reduced to 1100 occupants.

Conditions in Blikkiesdorp in Delft is a humanitarian issue. file image

The area was previously allocated for a runway for Airports Company South Africa and became a TRA 18 years ago when residents who were backyard dwellers were given temporary accommodation.

But Jerome Daniels, of the Blikkiesdorp leadership, said they would refuse another mass relocation of residents from another suburb as they had a goal to achieve in finding homes for people who have been on the waiting list for more than 20 years.

“Bliikiesdrop does not have space for another set of evicted people,” he said.

“We have been living here for 18 years and people will only be allocated in the next year when the project kick starts.

“There is no space for new people who are being evicted from Cape Town or anywhere. The crime has stabilised but it is not to say it isnt a concern for residents and others

“We will fight it if they want to send more people here, it will be a humanitarian disaster.

“How many people have passed away due to the living conditions? These are not conditions to live here.”

Reclaim the City said they continued to stand with the families in their humanitarian and constitutional plight.

“The families of Bromwell Street are not just fighting for their own homes. They are fighting for the soul of our City.

“They represent the countless individuals and communities who have been marginalised and cast aside in the name of progress and development.

“Their resistance is a beacon of hope for all of us who have faced the harsh reality of eviction and the threat of homelessness.”

This week, Mayco member for human settlements, Carl Pophaim, remained mum on costs incurred for the lengthy battle, stating the estimated amount could only be disclosed once proceedings were finalised.

The matter was brought before the Constitutional Court by the activist organisation and law centre, Ndifuna Ukwazi.

This after the SCA upheld the City's appeal against a High Court ruling which deemed its housing programme unconstitutional and invalid.

Yusrah Bardien of Ndifuna Ukwazi told Weekend Argus that a Parliamentary request had yet to be made for the findings of the costs.

Sidney Kimar, of Marlon Shevelew Attorneys, for Woodstock Hub, did not respond to media queries via email or telephone calls.

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