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Cape father bemoans ‘illegal evictions’

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Cape Town father Pieter Louw says his family and others have become the latest victims of unchecked arbitrary evictions in the Sea-Point/Green Point precinct, despite arbitrary evictions being illegal, according to South African law.

Arbitrary evictions are defined as forced evictions acted out upon tenants without the support of a court order. And Louw says the City of Cape Town and its administration are complicit in many of these acts.

Louw says following the sale of the house in Sea Point’s Main Road, that he and five other families rent out, they were alerted to an imminent eviction. But he says he was told by the property’s operator, Dr Harry Silberwits, that he, his family and some of the other tenants would be relocated to another property. But the conditions of their new, temporary, domicilie is less than desirable.

“Over the weekend we sat here fearful, waiting to be kicked out. By Monday he [Silberwitz] came and said he would assist us in finding alternative accommodation. He and my wife then left to go to town to search for a place, they were unsuccessful and instead he proposed that we move into another of his properties, the All Seasons Guesthouse, also in Somerset Road.”

Louw says that he had alerted police as well as the Cape Town Housing Tribunal of the imminent eviction, but was told by these two entities that the matter is civil, not criminal.

But in a report in the form of a case study Louw points out and refers to the Prevention of Illegal Evictions [PIE] Act of 2003, which states that arbitrary evictions, evictions without the help of a court order, are illegal. He says he has referred the matter to the South African Police Service’s Independent Police Investigative Directorate [IPID] to investigate the matter in which police officers refused to assist him and his family.

“On Friday assistance was sought from the SAPS Sea Point and two constables arrived at 23 Main Road, Green Point, where illegal evictions were taking place. The landlord, accompanied by a manager working for him, summarily told a paying tenant of five years and six months to evacuate the premises immediately. Two constables arrived at the scene and point blank refused to assist, arguing with [me] that it was a civil matter. Complainant repeatedly invited them to read from the Acts […], as he had copies of it on his computer and mobile phone.”

Louw said early Monday morning he was woken by the sounds of tools banging as water and electricity were cut off from their area, he says this is another form of forcing tenants out, and as such is an arbitrary, illegal, eviction.

In 2009, when VOC reported on similar evictions in the area, he became wary of the behaviour of property owners.

“We’re twenty years after democracy, why must people still be allowed to suffer like this two decades on?”

“The inhumane practice of arbitrary evictions should be ended immediately as it results in helpless people in becoming homeless, which increases the risk of crime, placing a greater burden upon the community and also adds to the work load of SAPS, hospitals, ambulance services, etc. Alderman J.P. Smith, Mayco member for Safety and Security of the City of Cape Town, had warned against people becoming homeless in the media a few years ago.”

But Louw believes certain landlords are protected within the City due to political or friendly alignments. He has made contact with the highest office on housing in the country, the Department of Human Settlements.

“A friend of mine and I have written a letter to minister Lindiwe Sisulu, and have been invited to come and speak to her, although because of my situation I will not be able to. [Friday] I was given a verbal eviction notice, which is illegal, and this kind of thing continues right across the City unchecked.”

The landlord has not responded to requests for a comment. VOC

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