Monday, March 04, 2024

ConCourt reserves judgment in Bromwell Families case

Judgment was reserved in the case of those residing in Bromwell Street in Woodstock. Housing advocacy group Ndifuna Ukwazi (NU), on behalf of the Bromwell Street residents facing eviction, had approached the Constitutional Court to appeal against a 2023 judgment of the Supreme Court of Appeal which overturned an order by the Western Cape High Court.

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The High Court had ruled in 2021 that the City’s emergency housing policy is unconstitutional and ordered the City to provide emergency housing in the inner city for the Bromwell Street families.

Hearings were held at the Constitutional Court on Tuesday. The Bromwell Street cottages were bought by Woodstock Hub Pty Ltd, a property development company, for R3.15-million in 2013. The residents began their legal battle against their eviction in 2016. They are requesting that the City of Cape Town provide emergency accommodation in the inner city

The City’s social housing programme, for which houses in Woodstock are still to be built, is “a rental or co-operative housing option for households earning between R1,850 and R22,000 a month,” according to this Western Cape Government website.

The City of Cape Town argued that it cannot provide emergency housing in the inner city, Woodstock and Salt River areas, due to a ‘limited’ available land and financial constraints. The City maintained that it is reasonable for it to prioritise social housing.

‘’Various municipal-owned properties in central Cape Town – with a yield of over 3 500 units - have already been released to social housing developers, including Pine Road, Dillon Lane, and Pickwick in Woodstock, Salt River Market, and the now tenanted Maitland Mews development. Several more properties are in the short to medium-term land release pipeline, including New Market Street, Woodstock Hospital and Earl Street, all in Woodstock, as well as Fruit & Veg in the CBD,’ said Carl Pophaim, Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements.

 ‘’In a February 2023 ruling, the SCA agreed with the City’s approach, stating that “the City was entitled to adapt its housing programme to address the effects of gentrification, among other challenges. It did so by identifying Woodstock, Salt River and the surrounds as areas to develop affordable social housing. It is not clear what could be objectionable about the City seeking to build affordable houses in the inner city as part of addressing the legacy of apartheid spatial planning”

Ndifuna Ukwazi argued that the rights of those living on Bromwell Street’s rights were violated.

Judgment was reserved.

‘’Once the ConCourt has provided its direction, the City stands ready to determine the number of occupants remaining at Bromwell Street, including their socio-economic conditions, before further engagements on alternative emergency accommodation taking into account the currently available options,’’ said Pophaim.

A lead applicant, Charnell Commando, who reflected on the hearing, says she just wants the City of Cape Town to be considerate.

‘’Eviction is something that breaks up families, breaks up communities, it breaks up how you feel inside. The anxiety, the stress, not knowing where you are going next, being thrown on the outskirts where you can’t come to your job or where the children can't come to school the whole week. It’s not just about the case, it’s what actually is happening with the people in the case. It’s real people’s lives being touched by the case.’’

 

Done By: Mitchum George

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