While Leon Brink’s wife lay in a hospital ICU ward, recovering from a double amputation, her Steenvilla home was emptied by security and eviction personnel.
Mr Brink and his 15-year-old grandson Aiden Africa watched helplessly as all their belongings were packed on a truck on Tuesday October 12, along with those of 26 other families who lived at the biggest social housing development in Cape Town.
Over the past few years several evictions had been executed at the development, leading to clashes with law enforcement, protests and tenants scrambling to secure other accommodation.
The completion of the 700-unit development, adjacent to the Steenberg train station, was a relief for many families as it was supposed to be akin to social housing development but after a few years mass evictions started, with Sohco citing rental arrears.
Mr Brink,70, his wife and grandson live off their pension and have no other means of income.
“We cannot afford the ever-increasing rental prices, we already struggle on our pension grants but we pay whatever we can. We have asked for assistance from Sohco but nothing has come of it.”
Mr Brink said Sohco management have no sympathy for their plight. “We were told the morning of the eviction that we need to move and then they threw us out like dogs.
“They have no heart because my wife is lying in hospital fighting for her life but these people don’t want to listen to reason,” he said.
Another resident, who did not want to be named for fear of being victimised by management, said she anticipated being evicted as well.
“I live with two children and three grandchildren but our rent is behind because both my daughter and I lost our jobs due to Covid-19. We’re paying what we can but it’s very difficult because we are barely getting by.”
The woman had been doing occasional cleaning jobs but had not been able to secure a stable job.
“I fear the day we will be evicted because I really don;t know where we will go. Sohco refuses to understand our situation even when we try to make arrangements.”
Sohco’s CEO Heather Maxwell said the evictions were supported by police and the City’s Law Enforcement on the basis of High Court eviction orders.
“Orders had been granted in December 2020, under the State of Disaster Regulations, which take these regulations into account.”
Ms Maxwell added the initial court application for the tenants who had recently been evicted was made in mid-2019 and had already been in significant arrears when the initial application was made.