Over 200 people sleep outside Observatory building after being evicted

Backyarders and shack-dwellers that occupied Arcadia Place in Observatory were evicted on Wednesday evening. The building, left vacant for renovations by the Cape Peninsula Organisation for the Aged (CPOA), was occupied by township residents for numerous weeks.

CPOA successfully applied to the court for an eviction order, but a lawyer mandated by the occupiers responded with a crucial application for an interdict to suspend the eviction, which was granted. A second urgent application was then filed to the court in which the outcome has yet to be determined. The eviction proceeded meanwhile. 

Vetus Schola armed private security guards arrived, asking residents to take their belongings and leave. When the guards entered, few residents made their way to the Main Road and blocking traffic. Law enforcement officers cleared the streets and security guards locked the front gate with chains, leaving only the side entrance open. According to the occupiers, over 200 people been living in the building. They said that the building had been vacant for a few of months. The three-storey building is set to be torn down and turned into an upgraded welfare retirement home. At the front entrance, about 30 residents gathered with their belongings asking repeatedly for the front gate to be opened so that they could leave. The private security staff denied their request. 

When this took place word spread that an interdict against the eviction was being processed. Residents then sang struggle songs and decided to hold their ground. Hours passed and residents returning to the occupied building outside. Security guards told residents inside that the gate would be opened and that they should leave. The chains were then removed and the gate opened. Immediately residents outside tried to force their way in. A loud “bang” went off and private security guards opened fire. It is unclear what type of ammunition was used. But the residents inside didn’t leave, and instead, sat down. The eviction was at a standstill. They were under the impression that while the urgent interdict was being processed, the eviction would no longer proceed. The lawyer explained that this was not the case. He suggested the occupiers leave peacefully and sleep outside until the eviction court proceedings continued on Thursday morning.