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Statement by Alderman Dan Plato, Executive Mayor of Cape Town

I have watched with serious concern as some of the lobby groups active in Cape Town have developed a very flexible relationship with the truth. This is dangerous territory as they will very quickly lose the trust of the public that they claim to represent.

Civil society organisations are crucial to a functional democracy and have an important role in representing different community interests, but they need to do so responsibly and truthfully.

Propaganda and misinformation benefits nobody – these are the very tools that did untold damage to our country through the state capture years and they have nothing of value to offer to our residents, so I am calling on activist groups, civil society groups, and lobby groups to please not misrepresent information to the media and to the people they claim to serve. You will only erode the trust in your organisations if you do this.

The recent matter of a Woodstock eviction is a case in point.

One of the activist groups in Cape Town claim that the City only informed the resident that his property would be auctioned off with a 48h notice. This is blatantly untrue and it is an injustice to our residents for such misinformation and fake news to be spread.

The truth is that the City has been engaging the residents of the property since 2014. For five years we have offered the resident alternative accommodation, and even offered to sell the council-owned property to him. All these offers were refused and the property was then set to be auctioned, with the resident notified two months ago. The resident claims that the property is registered in his deceased mother’s name. This is unfortunately also not true. The resident has also not been paying the rent, despite his claims to the contrary.

I attach to this statement a copy of the court order – note that the order to evict the resident contains no instruction to the City to provide alternative accommodation. However, we have exhausted all options in trying to do so, and all our offers were refused.

While the media should continue to report whatever the different parties are claiming, they also have a duty to point out when such claims are not true and not just rely on a ‘he said, she said’ situation. We all need to be holding ourselves to higher standards, because the standards set over the past 10 years in this country are not what we should aspire towards. We need to be better. I trust that those members of the media who reported on this matter will correct these inaccuracies in their subsequent reporting.

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