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At midday on 7 September 2016 I went to meet the families who were soon to be evicted from Bromwell Street in Woodstock. I went to set the record straight on the City of Cape Town’s obligation and to ask for their mandate to engage with the new owners of the premises to negotiate on their behalf for a stay of the eviction. Members from Ndifuna Ukwazi were also present at the meeting.

This is a court ordered eviction, between private land owners and the tenants. The City of Cape Town was not ordered to provide alternative accommodation. The court found it to be a fair and equitable eviction and the order stands. I intervened in the hopes of mediating between the owners and the tenants and finding an amicable solution respecting the rights of all the parties involved.

I subsequently engaged with the owners of the property (the Woodstock Hub) who kindly agreed to stay the eviction, over and above the existing extensions already granted. The families are now required to vacate the property on 26 September 2016.In the interim, we have been investigating the circumstances of each of the five tenants in order to ascertain whether they qualify for the basket of services that the City is allowed to offer in terms of policy and law.

Our allocation policy stipulates that we must deal with applications on an individual basis. We cannot assist residents in groups. Should the Bromwell families remain adamant to be dealt with as a group, it will have to be understood that the City, in terms of our own policy, will only engage with them on the basis of their individual applications.

The City uses a housing database to ensure the fair, transparent and systematic delivery of housing opportunities to qualifying residents who have registered on the database. The database, which is protected, updated and audited, is necessary to prevent queue-jumping. In order to be fair, we need to protect those who have been waiting patiently on the list.

The details of the tenants are as follows:
1. Rene Smith who occupies 122 Bromwell Street. She has been on the housing database since 2006

2. Willem Nel who occupies 124 Bromwell Street. His wife has been on the housing database since 2005

3. Sulaiman Goliath who occupies 126 Bromwell Street is not on the housing database

4. Brenda Smith who occupies 128 Bromwell Street is not on the housing database

5. Graham Beukes who occupies 130 Bromwell Street. He has been on the housing database since 2006

According to our policies and the circumstances of these five families, four of these families qualify to apply for Social Housing opportunities. These opportunities are subject to the acceptance of the tenants. Brenda Smith has been provided with an opportunity by the Western Cape Government. She was offered a house in a Pelican Park which she refused.

The City has plans to build two Social Housing developments within the next 18 months. The Bromwell families will be encouraged to apply when allocation takes place.

Despite this being a private matter, I offered to facilitate between the parties concerned and hope that an amicable solution can still be found. We are grateful to have succeeded in staying the eviction, and hope that the time left will be used to find alternative solutions which satisfy all those involved.

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