Activists halt Woodstock eviction
“This is the direct impact of gentrification”
About 30 supporters of Reclaim the City and Ndifuna Ukwazi gathered at the home of Carmina Vieira on Tuesday to prevent the eviction of her and her family. The sheriff arrived before 10am. The activists refused to leave. The police arrived 30 minutes later and tried to mediate, but the activists continued with the sit-in. Eventually, the sheriff and police withdrew.
Vieira has been living in Roodebloem Mansions in Woodstock for 26 years. She lives with her husband and their two adult children. She received an eviction notice for 11 October. Vieira’s husband is a fisherman and was still at sea when the sheriff arrived. She is unemployed.
Viera says she is prepared to leave, but needs more time. She had already packed her belongings in boxes and black bin bags.
“I’ve got nowhere to go. I’ve been trying to get accommodation, and it’s hard,” said Vieira. “I can’t go onto the street. I’m not a homeless person.”
She says her rent is R2,500 per month and she is four months in arrears. “The minute I get affordable housing, I’m gonna get out,” she said.
The attorney for landlord Noor Parker, who did not wish to give his name, said Vieira had agreed to leave months ago. “We have been to court seven times with her,” he said.
The attorney said she had agreed to move out on 11 October, but when that date came she had not managed to find alternative accommodation. The deadline was further extended to 23 October. The attorney said he then “started getting various calls explaining that they [Vieira] have nowhere to go”.
He said the eviction would proceed. “She refuses to move out” said the attorney.
Nkosikhona Swartbooi, a member of Ndifuna Ukwazi, said, “The only alternative accommodation that the city can offer is in Wolwerivier and Blikkiesdorp and she doesn’t want to go there.”
“This is the direct impact of gentrification. Most of these buildings that we see here, the tenants are being pushed out, so as to make space for fancy developments,” said Swartbooi.
Later In the afternoon, two policemen arrived in civilian clothing, one of them armed with a handgun. In an empty flat in the building, they spoke to Vieira and an activist privately. According to the activist, the police officer tried to intimidate Vieira with arrest and charges. Vieira then broke down. The eviction did not proceed on Tuesday, but it is pending.
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