01 February 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Housing Assembly Statement RE: Cissie Gool House Eviction
Housing Assembly would like to comment on the City of Cape Town’s (COCT) intention to evict the 900 residents of Cissie Gool House (CGH) Occupation (formerly Woodstock Hospital). On 12 February 2021, the sheriff delivered court papers to the CGH residents and this was the first time that they had heard or seen any of the official intentions of the city (see Reclaim The City’s (RTC) Statement, 23 February 2021). At 10am on Friday 26 February 2021, the COCT asked the High Court to grant an order allowing them to survey the residents of CGH without allowing the residents, the community, or affiliated organisations the opportunity to oppose.
The city has said that they intend to evict the residents to make space available for social housing. However, the city has displayed no intention of meaningfully engaging with CGH residents, which is a constitutional requirement when it comes to evictions. Additionally, the city intends to evict these residents without offering alternative accommodation. Thereby, this case is one of the largest forced removals in Cape Town since the end of apartheid (see RTC’s Statement, 25 February 2021).
Housing Assembly is deeply saddened by the COCT’s intentions to evict CGH residents without meaningfully engaging, with no provision of alternative accommodation, in the midst of a global pandemic and without allowing any opposition in court. We are excited that the city has finally recognised the value of building social housing near the CBD where there are sufficient job opportunities, basic government amenities, public transport, and a market for the various livelihood choices that poor and working-class people have. This is certainly a step in the right direction for spatial justice. However, the way that the city is going about this displays a complete lack of consideration for the residents of CGH as this eviction will effectively make the 900 residents homeless. We also acknowledge that the has no intentions of building social housing but to privatise CGH, if they had intentions using for social housing, they should have started with Pine road. On the 21 February 2021, the COCT issued a statement to call for proposed amendments to City’s Development Scheme. The city proposes all land units within their boundaries be it privately own, this have been planned for a long hence the evection court orders are requested, “we are not blind , we see you capitalist.”
Since 2017, CGH has provided a home to members of the Woodstock and Salt River community who were displaced as a result of rising property prices as the area became an attractive investment opportunity for private developers. Like many other buildings in and around the CBD, the former Woodstock Hospital had been left empty and purposeless prior to when residents began occupying. The occupation began as a political statement to draw attention to the city’s prioritisation of housing for profit, and to encourage the building of social housing opportunities near the CBD. Now, though, the occupation has become a home and safe space for many families and has been well taken care of by the residents. CGH is also the location of most of the Housing Assembly’s meetings.
On 26 February 20121 Housing Assembly gathered outside the High Court in solidarity with the CGH residents and alongside many affiliated organisations in recognition that this matter cannot be dealt with in court without the participation of those who are most immediately concerned, the residents of CGH. The outcome was that the COCT and the residents agreed to postpone the case to 22 April 2021, allowing time for residents to respond. This was with the help of RTC’s advocate Sheldon Magardie.
We as the organisation call all social movements to stand up against this cruel action taken by the DA led COCT.
Housing Assembly will continue to stand in solidarity with CGH residents and raise awareness for this matter as we await the outcome of the case on 22 April.
the interests of community enhancement together, in all respects. Enough is Enough!
For more info.
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CHAIRPERSON Kashiefa Achmat Cell 073 182 7862. Email Address firstname.lastname@example.org