Judgment reserved in Belhar-Pentech house 'hijacking' matter

Belhar-Pentech housing project homes were vandalised. file image

Belhar-Pentech housing project homes were vandalised. file image

Published Jun 13, 2024


Cape Town - A housing beneficiary waiting 33 years to move into his home at the hijacked Belhar-Pentech housing project, tells the desperate tale of the need for housing in the city.

Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis and human settlements mayco member Carl Pophaim were at the Western Cape High Court last week to support the beneficiaries of the R57 million housing project, dispossessed of their completed apartments due to hi-jacking of the units.

Judgment in the matter has been reserved.

Records shared with the Cape Argus, showed Errol Martheze has been waiting for more than three decades to receive his home from the City.

Errol Martheze has been waiting for more than three decades to receive his home from the City. pic supplied

This year he is hopeful as the City continues with the eviction application filed more than two years ago.

“For others to think that they can just move in, while we were all waiting for our homes ...

“Then they are saying that everyone can do that in South Africa and take what is not yours?

“How much longer must we wait? It has been 33 years,” Martheze said.

On May 16, 2021, the night before nine families were to get the keys to their long-awaited new homes, the doors were smashed down and a group of illegal occupiers moved in, the City said. The site is set to house 340 beneficiaries.

Hill-Lewis’s office launched urgent eviction proceedings to try to restore the homes to their rightful beneficiaries. “Unlawful occupants resisted the court’s instruction to talk to the City about their personal circumstances.

“We are finally able to stand up for these families in court, after more than two and a half years of fighting for them to be heard,” said Hill-Lewis.

“We are arguing that the unlawful occupants cannot be elevated above the thousands on the waiting list for state-subsidised housing,” he added.

Pophaim said nine rightful beneficiary families are affected.

The unlawful occupation robbed its rightful beneficiaries, who work within the law, of opportunities, he said.

“Illegal occupation of our units, whether it is subsidy housing or rental units, is absolutely devastating to our programmes, our beneficiaries and the safety in our communities,” he added.

Ward councillor in Belhar, Delmaine Cottee, earlier submitted a motion proposing the City carry out a forensic audit of the housing allocation, but said it was not supported.

Cottee argued that 45 residents, including those who were disabled, were not considered.

He told Cape Argus human rights also came into play for those who had “invaded” the homes, as they were also entitled to accommodation when they are set to leave the site.

“Those houses stood empty for months. The occupation took place over a weekend. There was a lot of discussion among the City and officials, including myself, which raised the issue around this. The courts also said the residents occupying these homes now must be given alternative housing,” he said. “They are prepared to move but the City had earlier cited Blikkiesdorp as an option which they do not think is suitable.”

Danielle du Plooy, who had a hip operation, shares a home with four other people, which she invaded a few years ago. “I am disabled and we are four children including a child.

Danielle du Plooy is among those who illegally occupied the homes at the Belhar-Pentech housing site. Pic: supplied

“We moved in here because we were backyard dwellers.

“All the years we have also been waiting for a house. We are aware of the City’s eviction process; we have our own lawyer fighting for us.”

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Cape Argus

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