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Attorney explains Bromwell Street judgment implications for City of Cape Town

9 September 2021 11:51 AM
Tags:
Bromwell Street
Cape High Court
Bromwell Street evictions
City of Cape Town
Judge Mark Sher
City of Cape Town emergency housing programme

John Maytham speaks to Browell residents' attorney Disha Govender about what the judgment means.
  • The judgment handed down by High Court Justice Mark Sher stopped the eviction order of the families in Bromwell Street, Woodstock, which stretches back to 2016 when developers bought the houses they have lived in their entire lives
  • The judgment contains a broader declaratory order which finds the CoCT emergency housing and implementation unconstitutional
  • The judgment also contains a order specific to the 26 Bromwell Street residents ordering CoCT to find the group emergency accomodation within 12 months in the inner-city precinct

Bromwell Street in Woodstock. Picture: Aletta Harrison/EWN.

Cape High Court Judge Mark Sher ruled that the City of Cape Town’s emergency housing policy is unconstitutional. Judge Sher has stopped the eviction order facing the Browell Steet families in Woodstock.

Background

The case goes back to 2014 when a property development company served eviction orders on 26 people living in Browell Street, Woodstock after it bought the subdivided cottages in that road.

These residents had been living in these houses their entire lives, taking over the leases from their grandparents, explains John.

The Cape High Court had ordered their eviction in 2016.

This was followed by the residents' lawyers telling the City of Cape Town that this would render them homeless and the City had an obligation to make emergency housing available to the group. The City disputed the obligation stating that the court had not issued such a directive.

The City then offered to move the 26 people to shacks in Wolwerivier 25km away, and then an option to move to Philippi, some 16.5km away.

Attorney acting for the Browell Street residents Disha Govender speaks to John Maytham.

The residents were still in their Bromwell Street homes when we launched the application back in 2016 to compel the City to provide them with emergency accommodation.

Disha Govender, Attorney for Bromwell Street residents

She says there was also a successful application made to stay the eviction order that had previously been granted by the court.

And so they are still in their homes.

Disha Govender, Attorney for Bromwell Street residents

The judgment

This recent judgment by Judge Sher has stopped the eviction order and given the City four months to come up with emergency housing is for the group in the same vicinity they have always lived 'or as close as feasibly possible.'

Govender explains that the judgment made was two-fold:

Firstly, was the broader declaratory order that the City of Cape Town's emergency housing programme and implementation, particularly in the inner-city areas, is unconstitutional.

Secondly, as a result of these residents having been impacted by this first finding, the judge ordered that the City find accommodation for the group within 12 months in the inner-city precinct.

What are the implications of the judgment?

The order in relation to the provision of emergency or transitional housing within the [inner-city] area is specific to the Browell Street residents.

Disha Govender, Attorney for Bromwell Street residents

But, the declaratory order that the court made around the City's emergency housing policy and implementation being unconstitutional, especially in relation to people being evicted o the Woodstock and Salt River inner-city areas, means that there would be some broader implications for people facing evictions in these areas.

Disha Govender, Attorney for Bromwell Street residents

It requires the City to take a relook at their policies and practices and ensure that it is rational and not arbitrary.

Disha Govender, Attorney for Bromwell Street residents

Read the judgment here




9 September 2021 11:51 AM
Tags:
Bromwell Street
Cape High Court
Bromwell Street evictions
City of Cape Town
Judge Mark Sher
City of Cape Town emergency housing programme

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