Families at college site face eviction

Families living on the Evangelical Bible College site in Camp Drive, Strandfontein, face eviction.

Five families living at the Evangelical Bible College site in Camp Drive, Strandfontein, are at their wits’ end as they were notified to vacate the premises by the end of November.

This comes after the college had invited them to stay about five years ago, without informing the City of Cape Town, who is the landlord of land sites 22 and 25 Camp Drive.

The college was in breach of its contract with the City for subletting the sites.

Jeff Alexander, 59, who lives with his wife Catherine and their son Michael, 26, in a single-bedroom dormitory on the site, said the college deliberately and intentionally subletted to them.

“They put us in this situation, in no man’s land. They’re the problem but they’re telling us to leave,” he said.

Mr Alexander said they had always suspected that the lease agreement was not above board because it was a template of a standard memorandum of agreement, which was bought at a stationery shop.

“We could never use this as proof of residence and show the banks that we pay rent,” he said.

Mr Alexander said they paid their rent, until September 2016 when both him and his wife stopped working.

He said they deposited rent under their name and that it was not referenced as rent in the college’s bank account.

He said their rent was only acknowledged for the first three months and thereafter it reflected as a donation and not as rent.

Mr Alexander and his brother in-law, Cliff Samuel, and their neighbour Kenneth Appany would buy electricity together which would amount to close to R9 000 a month and punch it in the single box, which other sublettees and residents on the plot could use.

According to Mr Alexander the bible college does not pay water and buy electricity as they have exorbitant utility bills outstanding with the City which was incurred prior to the tenants taking up residence.

Mr Alexander said since it was confirmed earlier this year they were determined to meet with the City, who in their understanding is the legal landlord.

Another subletter, Pastor Garlen Fredericks, said he would like an apology from the college and a portion of their money back.

City spokesman Luthando Tyhalibongo confirmed that the municipality owns the sites.

“Yes, the college is in breach of its lease. The college was notified of the breach in writing and the City met with them after the notice of breach was served. They are in the process of remedying the breach,” he said.

Subsequently the City has issued the college, its tenant, a letter which permits them to evict the subletters.

Mr Tyhalibongo said the municipality would not enter into a lease agreement directly with the residents and that it was the lessee’s responsibility to evict the subletters.

He also said that the residents had no recourse.

Malusi Booi, the City’s mayoral committee member for human settlements, said the site is reserved in favour of housing, “Feasibility studies and framework planning of the site will commence soon.

“These studies will show whether the site is suitable for the development of Breaking New Ground (BNG) housing,” he said.

He said a decision regarding the future use of the land, would determine the future of the tenants, which could only be reached after the studies are concluded.

Mr Booi said the possibility of the residents being applicants in the BNG housing could not be pre-empted.

This plot is part of Erf1212, bounded by Spine, Strandfontein, Baden Powell and Witsands roads, which could soon be transformed into a new suburb, (“Big hopes for houses”, Plainsman September 11).

“Due process is still being followed, which will determine the future use of the land, including whether the site is suitable for the development of BNG state-subsidised housing,” Mr Booi said.

He said in general, residents needed to register on the City’s housing demand database to be considered for housing opportunities that become available.

Reverend Nolan Thompson, chairman of the Evangelical Bible College of Southern Africa national council, confirmed that they are lessees of the ground and that the buildings belonged to the college.

He confirmed that the college is in arrears with its municipal bills.

He said, in terms of the subletting, they were in breach, but that the City had given them two options – either to apply for permission to sublet and to have the sub-tenants vacate.

“We decided on the second option since the tenants have not met the requirements for a long time, resulting in us having to bear the burden. That option brings us in line with the mandate of the City council.”

The college has served the residents with notices to vacate premises dated this year October 1, from which they have two calendar months to vacate.

“We have tried to be very lenient, ‘Christian’ in our dealings with them. The Evangelical Bible College Southern Africa believes very strongly that we have behaved in a Christian manner by tolerating the occupation of our dormitories by the families, who have not met their financial requirements for an extended period,” Mr Thompson said.