Left out in the cold

Marian Linda Galant, 65, was evicted from a council house in Tafelsig. Pictured with her is community worker Herman Bartie, from Baviaanskloof Community Feeding Scheme.

A Tafelsig pensioner was rushed back to hospital on Monday October 30, a week after he was discharged and left homeless, when he and his wife were evicted from a City of Cape Town owned house.

Andrew Galant, 64, was discharged from Groote Schuur Hospital after a liver operation on Tuesday October 24, about the same time his wife Marian Linda Galant, 65, was being evicted from their home for the past seven years for being what the City of Cape Town calls “unlawful occupants”.

Speaking to the Plainsman on Friday October 27 from her sister’s home, across from the Rhaboksberg Street house where they used to live with Priscilla Markam, who died of lung cancer in 2014, Ms Galant said they had been to the City’s Beacon Valley housing office to take over the lease but were refused.

Ms Galant said she cared for Ms Markam, who was the City’s tenant, during her life time. Subsequently, she had applied for a transfer of the lease on to their name as they do not want to leave Mitchell’s Plain because they were close to family and amenities.

Ms Galant has been on council’s housing waiting list since December 19, 2008.

Yesterday, Tuesday October 31, when the Plainsman called to find out where the Galants were staying, Ms Galant said her husband had been rushed to Somerset Hospital the previous night. “He is in the trauma (unit) at Somerset Hospital,” she said.
They have been staying in Bonteheuwel with Ms Galant’s niece.

Ms Galant said they had nowhere to go as most of their families’ homes were full.

Community worker Herman Bartie, from Baviaanskloof Community Feeding Scheme, said their eviction was “taking our people back to the apartheid era”.

“There was no communication from the City or the department advising the pensioners of their eviction,” he said. “How can the City be so heartless without making alternate arrangements for these people,” he said.

He handed the Plainsman copies of a letter he sent to the mayor, dated November 19, 2014, in which he wrote that tenants of council rental stock were not notified about their unlawful occupation. In there Mr Bartie mentioned the Galants and Zainab Stemmet, who also lived with Ms Markam.

He argued that they could live there because as non-family members of the City’s tenant, they had been living there before March 1 2006, with respects to the Unlawful Occupation Policy. According to the Unlawful Occupation Policy, an unlawful occupant who moved in prior to March 1 2006, would be considered for normalisation subject to their meeting the eligibility criteria (the unlawful occupant will have to submit adequate proof that he or she moved in prior to the cut-off date) but not necessarily in the accommodation they presently occupy.

On Friday October 27, the Plainsman also spoke to Ismail Hartley, who had been on the waiting list for 34 years and was preparing to move into the Tafelsig house from where the Galants had been evicted. Mr Hartley, 53, has been living in a wendy house on his sister’s property in Bonteheuwel for about 20 years. Previously he had been offered a flat in Manenberg and Heideveld but refused this because he could not climb the stairs because of ill health.

In a letter dated Wednesday October 25, he was allocated the Tafelsig house. He moved in with his four children, aged between 31 and 37. “I am grateful to the City for giving me a house,” he said. “Not everybody gets a house but I want to tell the people to be patient and I am willing to make this a happy home,” he said.

On the same day, the Plainsman was witness to Phillida Karele, 47, and her five children, aged between 7 and 27, including a 10-year-old who has Down’s syndrome, being evicted from their late grandmother’s house in Mostertshoek Street, Tafelsig.
Ms Karele said she cared for her mother, Laura Wolmarans, who died five years ago. “I can’t go live anywhere with my children, especially my disabled child,” she said.

Ms Karele said she had gone to the council’s housing office in Beacon Valley several times to ask whether she could take over the lease of her late mother. “I was told I must just stay in the house,” she said.

Neighbours have drawn up a petition in support of Ms Karele staying in the house to prevent drug addicts or vagrants occupying the house. “We the Mitchell’s Plain Civic Association together with the community of Tafelsig are petitioning against evictions from houses,” read the petition.

Community worker Faieza Jacobs, who had drawn up the petition, said they would do whatever they could to help Ms Karele.
“I was offered alternative accommodation in Blikkiesdorp (near Delft) but I refused because of my young children,” Ms Karele said.

Stuart Diamond, the City’s mayoral committee member for assets and facilities management, said regarding the Mosterthoek Street house, the lawful tenant passed away in May 2015, whereafter the daughter of the deceased, Ms Karele and her family, moved into the property.

She was then served with 30 days’ notice to vacate by October 1, 2015. He said this did not happen and the matter went to court. A court order was issued on Friday February 17, informing her that she had two months, until Friday April 28, to vacate the dwelling.

Failing to vacate, the sheriff of the court intended on carrying out the eviction on Wednesday October 11 but could not do so.

The Plainsman was told by a community worker that about 2 000 unlawful tenants were due to be evicted across the metro but Mr Diamond said the City’s tenancy management department is not aware of such evictions.

He said the eviction orders were obtained because the tenants were unlawfully occupying the houses. “The City allocates rental housing vacancies from a central housing database in date of application order and cannot support queue-jumping,” he said.

Mr Diamond said alternative accommodation was offered if ordered by the court. “The City only evicts as a last resort and always follows the necessary steps and procedures,” he said.