De Waal Drive flats spat

Cape Times
Monday October 19, 2015

CONCERNS have been raised about “vulnerable” residents being coerced by the government to vacate prime property along De Waal Drive and move to Pelican Park.

The Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance (GCTCA) has lambasted the Department of Human Settlements for its “intended evictions of vulnerable citizens”.

MEC for Human Settlements Bonginkosi Madikizela has reassured residents that the government has no intention of evicting the families living in the 92 units, despite many of them being in arrears with rent.

“We are not evicting anyone. But the only way for people to stay in De Waal Drive is for them to honour their lease agreement.”

He said collectively the De Waal Drive residents were more than R900 000 in arrears.

“The tenants are massively subsidised and are paying between R100 and R2 500 for rent per month. The department forked out R846 000 on rates and taxes during the last year,” he said.

GCTCA chairperson Philip Bam said there seemed to be a “terrible haste” by the authorities to evict tenants living in government flats.

“From interaction with tenants of the De Waal Drive Flats, it would appear that authorities made no secret of it that the flats were on prime property.

“It has one of the best views over Table Bay and just behind it is the iconic Table Mountain. It is claimed the people were not paying market-related rentals.

“Most of the people affected are elderly, having lived there for at least 30 years. Some of the tenants suffered forced removal before.

“We know what debilitating effects the displacement from their homes can have on the senior citizens. Past experience indicates that this move can be the end of their lives,” Bam said.

Madikizela said that valuations by an independent valuer showed that the current market-related rental for a unit in De Waal Drive was between R3 500 and R6 500.

Bam said the government had in the past sold council flats to their tenants at an affordable price, and at one stage even transferred houses for free as the rental paid over many years covered the loans taken out.

“We ask: why can’t the flats be sold to the tenants, especially those who lived there and paid rent for over 30 years?” Bam said.

Madikizela said: “We offer free houses to people who earn between zero and R3 500 and the department has an obligation to provide rental accommodation for people on the waiting list who earned too much to qualify for a free house, but too little to qualify for a mortgage.

“Rental accommodation is meant to be self-sustainable, and currently this is not the case in De Waal Drive.”

The majority of the tenants had expressed a willingness to move to Pelican Park, Madikizela added.

Leave a Reply