13 February 2017

South Africa: Wealthy Turning Woodstock Residents Into Refugees - Church

The wealthy must stop turning poor people into "refugees in their own town', said Cape Town's Anglican Church, as it threw its weight behind Woodstock's soon-to-be-evicted Bromwell Street residents.

"It is shocking that the poor have to resort to the courts to fight for their democratic right to a home close to their place of work, school, essential services and livelihood opportunities," said Bishop Garth Counsell in a statement on Sunday.

Counsell said the plan to relocate the families from the strip of houses bought by the Woodstock Hub for a private rental development to Wolwerivier, outside the city, would leave the struggling families with more expenses.

"Furthermore, 'apartheid style' evictions are unacceptable under our Constitution and the wealthy should refrain from displacing families for their own ends and turning residents into 'refugees' in their own town," Counsell said.

The church wants the Woodstock Hub, the City of Cape Town and the courts to find accommodation for the families closer to their places of work and other services.

Judgment has been reserved in an application by the Bromwell Street residents to the Western Cape High Court for an order that their eviction be put on hold, and that the city's decision to put them in a temporary relocation area almost 30km away way is irrational.

The residents had proposed a number of alternatives closer to Woodstock, but these were regarded as unsuitable by the City of Cape Town, which believes it is doing what it should to help the residents by offering the Wolwerivier arrangement.

The residents fear living in Wolwerivier because it is far from any development where they could get a job, there are no schools or public transport, and they will be isolated and torn from the community they already live in.


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