Upset over woman’s court eviction

Johanna Philander, Gaironesa Hendricks with little Yamin Hendricks.

Residents were up in arms when the City of Cape Town evicted a “kind-hearted” neighbour from Sterling Court, Retreat, for “anti-social” behaviour, on Thursday September 14.

The tenants argued that Gaironesa Hendricks had been evicted “unfairly” and denied she had been selling drugs. However, said Amina Fortune, Ms Hendricks’s door was always open to anyone, who wanted food or a place to sleep.

Ms Fortune showed Southern Mail the eviction notice that was given to Ms Hendricks, after a woman who slept in Ms Hendricks’s house, was arrested for being in possession of drugs in 2013. “That woman is still in jail, but Gaironesa should not be blamed for it. I helped Gaironesa because she cannot read and write very well. I have all the documents of the court orders and eviction notices,” said Ms Fortune.

Ms Fortune said many people came and went at the house, Ms Hendricks had never sold drugs. “She has been struggling to get a job and she is living with her sister who has Alzheimer’s (disease), her disabled son, her daughter and five grandchildren, one of whom has Down syndrome.”

Ms Hendricks said: “I haven’t been working for 10 years and I am nine years behind with my rent. I don’t have a job but I go around the area to collect bottles and scrap to sell, to put food on the table.”

She spent most of the time, she said, outside attending to the gardens to beautify the courts.

She added that when the Sheriff of the Court came on Wednesday September 13 to ask if she wanted to move to Blikkiesdorp, she thought they wanted her out because she was in arrears with her rent. “I don’t want to move because I’ve been living here for 28 years. The next day they took all my furniture, and put them outside. My family are sleeping all over at neighbours’ houses. My sister is with Amina, I am sleeping at my neighbour Magmoeda Steenkamp, my daughter is with the opposite neighbour with my grandchildren and my son is sleeping outside.”

Ms Steenkamp said: “We know Gaironesa as a kind person who helps everyone around here. She will help any child who is out on the street and give them a place to stay.”

Astrid Isaacs who also lives in the courts said she doesn’t understand why they evicted Ms Hendricks. “I was one of the people who Gaironesa took into her home when I was stranded,” she said.

However, Stuart Diamond, mayoral committee member for assets and facilities management, said the eviction had nothing to do with Ms Hendricks’ rental arrears and that it had been carried out by the book.

“The City of Cape Town’s Tenancy Management Department confirms that an eviction order was obtained against the tenant and all those occupying the premises,” he said.

“The eviction order was obtained for anti-social behaviour and not due to rental arrears as is being alleged. The City of Cape Town followed prescribed legal processes and the regulatory policies in this regard.

“Eviction is always a last resort and follows various forms of warning. The City has the task of balancing the needs of all residents, including the other rental stock tenants who have the right to a safe and nuisance-free environment.”

While Southern Mail was interviewing the neighbours and Ms Hendricks, Law Enforcement came to check out the broken door at Ms Hendricks’s flat where someone had allegedly broken into the night before.

Law Enforcement officers handed over a notice stating that they were offering their services to store Ms Hendricks’ furniture for one month.

Ms Steenkamp said they were waiting on an NGO in Lavender Hill to investigate and to help Ms Hendricks get her flat back.