De Waal Drive tenants mobilise against potential evictions
The De Waal Drive tenants’ campaign to resist relocation to Pelican Park is gaining momentum. This weekend signatures from most tenants to ratify their elected committee were gathered, and yesterday the committee had a strategic session with the South Road Families Association (SRFA).
For about a year, the SRFA has resisted the City of Cape Town’s attempts to cancel their lease agreements and to evict them. Their homes — council owned rental stock in Wynberg — lie in the way of construction plans for a new MyCiti bus route. The meeting was facilitated by Ndifuna Ukwazi and chaired by SRFA member Shihaam Lagkar, who committed to support the Drive’s residents on the “long struggle” ahead. Other South Road colleagues contributed advice for the De Waal Drive Residents Association (DWDRA).
“Standing together and having structure - that is the only chance you have of standing up to these people (government),” said SRFA member Mogamat Bester, warning the tenants to remain skeptical and not to be lulled into a false sense of security by the recent “quietness” of the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements. In April, the Department went public with a proposal to refurbish the flats and to extract market-related-rentals from them in the future. An offer to relocate some tenants to the Pelican Park housing development in Grassy Park went hand in hand with this proposal.
The DWDRA were advised to register as non-profit organisation as soon as possible. The South Road activists also gave advice on how to formalise tenant membership, the importance of building media contacts, drafting a constitution, record keeping, and building support among and for tenants who are vulnerable.
Meanwhile, the De Waal tenants have planned a picket and prayer chain along the Drive during rush hour traffic this afternoon, as a public show of solidarity.
“It’s to show the people of Cape Town that we are here, that we are not going anywhere and that will be standing together,” said tenant and committee member Anthony Johnson.
For a background on this story, please see When government gentrifies: The case of De Waal Drive flats on the buildings, tenants and government’s proposal.
Daneel Knoetze is the Urban Land Justice researcher at Ndifuna Ukwazi. Views expressed are not necessarily GroundUp’s.
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