An evictee from Plumstead claims she is being targeted by the local government for speaking out against gentrification in the area.
Deputy Chairperson of Naruna Estate Resident’s Association,
Beverley Strong, has accused the department, which owns the estate, of
targeting her in her eviction.
According to the Constantiaberg Bulletin, Strong received her first eviction notice in August of last year. The stating that she owed more than R20 000 and was given two weeks to move out.
However, the eviction was postponed when Strong took her case to the Rental Housing Tribunal.
The MEC for Human Settlements, Tertuis Simmers, stated
that the eviction had nothing to do with Strong’s opinion on gentrification.
“The action is based on non-compliance with the lease and
nothing to do with so-called ‘gentrification’ of the area. That would be an
example of an irrational/ frivolous decision. It would also be inappropriate of
the department to articulate the reasons of this particular matter until legal
processes have concluded.”
Struggles for residents of Naruna Estate
Strong’s woes began more than two decades ago when she had
put her name on a waiting list for a state home.
Strong said that she made various attempts to write to the necessary officials and after many failed applications for housing she had become desperate.
Finally in 2011, Strong, out of desperation, had chained
herself to the gates of Naruna Estate.
“At first I was only allowed to move in with my bed here.
They gave me a one month lease in the beginning.”
She claimed that in the first few years of living on the
estate, she was not given a lease and she had not paid rent.
Strong added that she had to wait three years for a five-year lease and months to get a rent card in order to pay the rent.
Sometime later, Strong found herself owing more than R15000.
When she was unable to pay, Strong negotiated a payment plan to pay her debt.
“I said to them I’d pay R600 back then in an effort to pay
up my arrears, and they thanked me. They even said that they wished everyone
who owed arrears was like me. One moment they’re thanking you for saying that
you’ll pay more, the next moment they’re evicting you.”
Strong blames alleged maladministration and confusion within
the department as the reason for her high debt.
The Department’s response
Simmers stated that they had acted in line with the
requirements Rental Housing Act 50 of 1999, as well as Section 14 of the
Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008.
He added that there was a clause in the lease allowed the
department, as the owner of the property, to reserve the discretionary decision
to extend a lease.
Furthermore, Simmers added that the department had been
suffering huge losses due to the low rental income and large maintenance costs.
“It is becoming more imperative for the department to
exercise fiscal discipline to ensure that the rental stock is managed on a
sustainable basis. The department held various engagements with the tenants
regarding rental and leases and this was not well received. Tenants who are not
able to afford the rental have been offered alternative accommodation options.”
However, Strong believes that this is just an excuse to kick
out the poorer residents who are in debt.
The Tribunal’s decision
According to Strong, the Tribunal had given Strong two options. She could either move to Pelican Park or sign a new three-year lease which had been introduced by the department.
However, neither the department or strong with either of
“I’m not signing that lease. There’s no security of tenure. I’m also not moving to Pelican Park. I’m a single 58-year-old woman. I foster two of my grandchildren. How many taxis is it going to take me to get to work? I work around here in Plumstead, the children go to school around here. There’s no infrastructure at Pelican Park. They’re trying to move us into those shells, this is a community. We’ve built a community for ourselves.”