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Methodist Church preparing court order to remove refugees amid health, safety concerns

By | Eviction news

 A general view of refugees at the Central Methodist Church in Greenmarket Square.

A general view of refugees at the Central Methodist Church in Greenmarket Square. (Photo by Gallo Images/ Brenton Geach)

The Methodist Church of Southern Africa is in the process of bringing an eviction order against hundreds of refugees, who have been living in its Central Methodist Mission in Cape Town since last year, on the grounds of health and safety.”The grounds are what we’ve been saying all along – it’s been a health and safety risk from the beginning, which I mentioned when people were already there,” said Reverend Alan Storey.He added the safe space was no longer a safe space due to the risks, and the church would be defeating its original offer and intention – of safety – to let the group stay.Storey said the risk of Covid-19 had brought an additional sense of urgency, but they were not doing it just to clear out the church.Leadership dispute

He added there were children who have not been outside the church on Greenmarket Square since December 29, when a leadership dispute split the group in two – with one inside and another outside the church.

A note has also been put up outside the church recently by the group to ask tourists not to enter as they have usually done as Covid-19 measures are in place.

On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the declaration of a national state of disaster, and measures include limiting public gatherings to 100 people.

Religious institutions have announced the postponement of planned mass gatherings, and changed the way prayers are offered.

One of the leaders of the “inside” group at the Central Methodist Mission, JP Balous, appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Thursday and his case was postponed to 30 March, according to Western Cape National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila.

Balous was arrested for the alleged intimidation of SA Human Rights Commission commissioner Chris Nissen, and also on an unrelated assault case. During an appearance on 7 March pandemonium ensued during court proceedings.

Storey said he had spoken to the leader of the “inside” group, Aline Bukuru, to express his concern over the health and safety of the group, which includes at least 50 small children.

Fire hazard

“We forget that it [the cramped living conditions] is a complete fire hazard.”

The group originally camped out at the Waldorf Arcade where the UN High Commissioner for Refugee’s office is based to demand relocation to a third country, citing xenophobia.

They were removed by the police at the end of October last year who used water cannons and stun grenades. Thereafter, Storey offered them shelter as they wandered around Greenmarket Square in a daze with their luggage.

They have been told it is not possible as a group to be relocated, and must apply individually.

The “outside” group eventually decamped to a site opposite the Cape Town Central police station after being removed by law enforcement invoking by-laws against living and cooking on the pavements around the church.

Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs has asked for feedback on what the department and City of Cape Town intend doing about the situation.

Storey said lawyers were still working on the application, and he did not have a court date yet.

In a church notice, also announcing there would be no services due to Covid-19, he wrote: “In closing, I have a great concern about the refugees in the CMM sanctuary…

“… They are attempting to practice frequent hand washing, etc. But the truth is the conditions inside the sanctuary are ripe for a virus of any sort to spread, let alone the highly contagious coronavirus. As a result, our legal processes are addressing this matter with increased urgency.”

Source: News24 (emphasis by SD Law*)

* SD Law is a Cape Town law firm of specialist eviction lawyers. Our eviction attorneys also help landlords and tenants in Johannesburg and Durban with the eviction process. Contact us today for legal help with evicting a tenant, or to defend a tenant from an illegal eviction.

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‘I would like to die here’

By | Eviction news, Evictions

The fight over a piece of land in Noordhoek has lasted 13 years, and still there seems to be no end in sight.

Several families who have lived on the corner of Noordhoek Main Road and Kenali Close for generations are at loggerheads with the current property owner, Judy Sole.

The families, who say they have been living on the property since even before 1950, claim they made verbal agreements with the previous owner, Japie De Villiers, to live on parts of the farm. When De Villiers died, they continued to reside on the plot.

According to Sole she bought the 1.45 hectare property in 2006. It was on auction for R3.1 million.

She says she notified the residents that they would have to move out in 2016 but received no response from them until she served them with the official notice of eviction.

The residents allegedly appealed the eviction under the Prevention of Illegal Eviction (PIE) Act, and later argued that their residence on the property was covered by the Extension of Security of Tenure Act (ESTA). ESTA deals with the eviction of residents illegally residing on rural or peri-urban land.

According to ESTA, long-term occupiers (those persons who have resided on a farm for more than 10 years and are over 60 years of age) cannot be evicted. This applies to those who cannot provide labour to a land owner as a result of ill health, disability or injury. The court case is still unresolved.

Cecil Morkel lives with his family in one part of the old main building on the farm. It was built around 1927.

In terms of ESTA, a person who has an income in excess of the prescribed amount of R5 000 can be evicted.

Morkel says he only has a part-time job, which does not bring in much money.

Another resident, Walter Sampson, lives in an informal home put up on the property after the building he occupied collapsed. He says he has lived there all his life. “I was born here – at False Bay Hospital – and I’ve always lived here,” says the 50-year-old.

He works one day a week in Kommetjie.

His daughter, Berendine, lives with him. For a small income, she takes care of a child belonging to one of the residents during the day and sells fire wood. She says the farm is the only home she’s ever known.

“I would like to die on this farm. My grandparents died here and all of us were born here – my kids were also born here.”

Residents say, if Sole were to offer them alternative living arrangements, they would be open to it provided it would be in Noordhoek.

But Chris Middelbrook, an attorney representing one of the residents, says relocation will probably result in them being moved to Ocean View, Blikkiesdorp, Delft or Wolwerivier.

Berendine says none of them would like to move to any of these locations as the Noordhoek community is all they know and the farm is where they make their living.

Marilyn Morkel and Kathy Liell-Cock were offered monetary compensation to leave. Morkel took the option several years ago, but according to her daughter, Micheala Jaftha (who still lives on the farm), her mother was never paid in full.

“The deal was that Marilyn and her whole household were to leave. So I paid her half of the money and only she left. The rest of them are still there,” says Sole.

She says all of the other residents have agreed to leave, except Morkel’s family and the Sampson family. The next court date is set for later this month.

Source: Peoples Post posted by News24 (emphasis by SD Law*)

*SD Law is a law firm of eviction lawyers, based in Cape Town, offering legal eviction services across South Africa, including eviction lawyers in Johannesburg and eviction lawyers in Durban. Our specialist eviction attorneys offer landlord and tenants advice and representation on the eviction process, eviction notices, and how to evict a tenant.

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Police evict migrant squatters from Cape Town’s busy square

By | Eviction news, Homeless, Uncategorized

Trucks tore down structures where they had camped.

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Source: AFP

South African police on Sunday forcibly removed hundreds of migrants who had been squatting for four months on a busy Cape Town square popular with tourists.

The eviction ended months of tension between the city and the migrants who had camped on the pavements of Greenmarket Square since last year following a spate of xenophobic attacks.

Cape Town had sought an injunction after around 700 foreign nationals, mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi occupied the sidewalks.

A court last month granted the city the right to enforce its bylaws which prohibit sleeping, washing, defecating or cooking on the streets.

On Sunday, police vehicles surrounded the area and hundreds of officers donning masks and gloves peacefully removed the migrants.

Trucks followed and tore down makeshift structures where they had camped.

Emotions ran high as migrants grabbed their belongs and walked away.

Some sang in defiance and shouted “where’s the rainbow nation?”, “we are not animals in a zoo” and “we are not cockroaches like you call us. God will punish you for generations.”

“People are stranded. We have nowhere to go,” said Oliver Majambu, a Congolese refugee.

Many refugees expressed anger and disappointment at the lack of alternative accommodation for them.

“Cape Town is not insensitive to the plight of the refugees, but we can simply not allow the situation to carry on unchecked, as it has had a major impact on surrounding businesses,” said JP Smith, the city official in charge of security and safety.

“We are not in a position to provide emergency shelter to the group, given the great need that exists among South Africans.”

Greenmarket Square is a tourist hotspot with hotels, restaurants and vendors selling African goods to visitors.

Since the refugees moved in, around one-third of the businesses in and around the square in the heart of the city’s business district have shut down.

Migrants had initially staged a sit-in protest at a building hosting the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the city in October, demanding to be relocated to another country.

They were evicted from that building and spent a few weeks at a church before camping at the square.

South Africa, the continent’s most industrialised economy, is a magnet for economic migrants. But they are sometimes targetted by locals who blame them for the lack of jobs.

Last year, a surge in mob attacks against foreign workers hit Johannesburg and other areas, forcing migrants to flee shelters or return home.

Source: Citizen (emphasis by SDLaw*)

SDLaw / Simon Dippenaar & Associates Inc. is a law firm, of specialised eviction lawyers in Cape Town, eviction lawyers in Johannesburg and Durban. Contact one of our eviction attorneys for help with the eviction process, evicting a tenant, or with drafting of eviction notices.

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