BRIEF | CAPE TOWN 

False alarm sets off protest at Cape Town’s biggest social housing complex

WhatsApp message claimed, wrongly, that 600 families were to be evicted on Monday

Photo of protesters stopping a car
Protesters at Steenvilla blocking motorists on Military Road. Photo: Ashraf Hendircks
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On Monday morning about 70 tenants from Cape Town’s largest affordable housing complex, Steenvilla, blocked Military Road. They sat in the middle of the street and sang struggle songs.

A Whatsapp message doing the rounds had said that the City of Cape Town “plans to evict 600 families” through “an eviction order but it is for January 2018”.

But Heather Maxwell of Sohco Property Investments said, “There are no evictions planned for today at Steenvilla and never have been. There are a number of eviction applications currently in the legal process, resulting from non-payment of rental, but nowhere near 600.”

In August GroundUp reported that 22 families were facing eviction. At that protest (but not Monday’s one), protesters were wearing T-shirts of the Patriotic Alliance, a political party started by convicted bank robber Gayton McKenzie and others (including convicted fraudster Kenny Kunene). Die Son (29 July) quoted Mckenzie saying that he will cover R100,000 of the evictees’ fees.

Rita Adams, a 66-year-old pensioner, moved to Steenvilla in 2010 after being on the waiting list for years. She said she received an eviction notice but said it was with the lawyer representing the tenants. She claimed when the sheriff visited them on Wednesday he was accompanied by heavy security.

“When the rent was increased … I went to the council to explain that I can’t afford [it]. Then they said I must move out. Where do they think I will get R3,500 [per month] from? … When they gave me the flat they didn’t tell me that the rent will go up … I do not have alternative accommodation. I am too old to toyi toyi. When they evict us they do not give us a notice, so last night I did not sleep; I had to watch out.”

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