Wheelchair-bound Freddie Titus, 50, who lives on the third floor of the Helen Bowden Nurses’ Home in Granger Bay, says they need much more than just financial support.
“We need support. We need social workers, psychiatrists, police and medical services who can help with the difficult challenges life throws at you.”
He spoke to the Plainsman after getting a food parcel from Woodlands Women’s Support group chairwoman, Gabieba Rademeyer, who cooked food and delivered some goods to occupants of the home, renamed the Ahmed Kathrada House by Reclaim the City activists who have been occupying the home since March 2017. The activists are campaigning for well-located, affordable housing in the inner city to reverse apartheid spatial planning in Cape Town.
The occupation was in response to the provincial cabinet’s decision, on March 22 2017, to proceed with the sale of the Tafelberg site in Sea Point to the Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School for R135 million. Reclaim the City says with this decision the provincial government showed a deep contempt for the needs of poor and working-class black and coloured people as province had the power and the obligation to show principled political leadership based on clear evidence that social housing is feasible on the Tafelberg site.
Mr Titus, a double amputee, has to be carried up and down two flights of stairs when he wants to leave the flat he shares with his wife and their two children. “You don’t help by talking but with your heart,” he said.
Prayer had kept him alive, he said, while living without electricity and piped water since he moved into the flat three years ago.
Late last month, the Western Cape High Court set aside the sale of the Tafelberg site to the Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School.
Another occupier, Beauty Sisusa, who works at the Castle of Good Hope, told Ms Rademeyer there were about 800 families living in the occupied building and that many of them were battling to make ends meet.
Ms Rademeyer said: “My heart went out to her and her neighbours. I prayed for assistance and was able to rally support.”
They delivered cooked food, cool drinks and food parcels, as well as party packs for the children, on Thursday September 3.