/ 21 February 2008

Delft homeless appeal for food and water

A spokesperson for about 1 800 people evicted from unfinished homes in Delft on Thursday appealed for water and food for the group, now living on a site adjacent to the land.

“It’s like a state of emergency,” said Ashraf Cassim, a spokesperson for the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign. “It’s a sad affair, but people are strong. People are losing their jobs, children are not going to school, and people don’t have anywhere to pass urine or stools.”

The group had occupied homes being constructed for the N2 Gateway project for two-and-a-half months on the grounds that the process to allocate houses was unfair, with people who had not been on the waiting list for long getting preference over people who had waited for about 12 years, Cassim said.

On Monday, the Cape High Court ruled that their occupation was illegal and that they should be evicted.

They are planning an appeal, but, said Cassim, they do not have the money for the legal costs to lodge the application.

The group primarily comprises backyard dwellers and “people who have been sleeping on steps”, he explained.

“We are trying to reach out to people to support us with food and water. An Islamic relief organisation is helping us and we are trying to raise funds for the [Supreme Court of Appeal],” he said.

A housing department official was not immediately available to comment on plans to assist the group, but an earlier statement said that the City of Cape Town should take responsibility “following the arrest of one of its councillors for inciting the invasion”.

Meanwhile, developers were to meet later on Thursday to “plot the way forward”. A quantity surveyor would assess damage caused to the homes and determine the amount of a civil claim to be lodged against Democratic Alliance (DA) councillor Frank Martin.

The DA could not immediately comment on this.

The construction site was to be fenced off and police and security companies were keeping a “watching brief” at the site. — Sapa

The number for the relief organisation working with the group is Tel: 021 699 0375