Fiery end to Green Point tent city

The homeless community was evicted on Thursday

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Muriel Baard saves what she can after a fire breaks out at “Tent City” in Green Point during an eviction.

The homeless community near the Green Point tennis courts, known as “Tent City”, were evicted by the Sheriff of the High Court on Thursday.

On Tuesday, we reported how the community had been facing imminent eviction for weeks and how some people had chosen to voluntarily relocate. But many were not happy with the relocation offers and decided to stay put.

When GroundUp arrived at the scene we found some people sitting outside the camp with all their belongings. Some were still packing their things in boxes and suitcases.

At about 9:30am, a man with a megaphone, accompanied by law enforcement and police officers, said: “All of them out … We will demolish all these structures.”

Amid the chaos that ensued, a woman’s bag was stolen outside the site by a passerby. Another woman was dragged from the camp by law enforcement officers. Some tents caught fire. The fire was quickly extinguished by fire and rescue vehicles, but not before people lost their belongings.

Muriel Baard sits with her belongings before the start of the eviction. Baard said that she didn’t know where she would sleep.

The people we spoke to told us they didn’t know where they were going to sleep now.

The City “promised us they were going to give us places, but now they are putting us out without giving us places”, said Muriel Baard, sitting outside the tennis courts with her belongings. “Now, I don’t know what’s going to happen. They are forcing us out.”

She was most worried that her SASSA documents and ID might get stolen.

She said she was homeless because there were problems at home.

Lourensa Manuel was unsure where to go with her dog as shelters don’t accept animals.

On Tuesday we reported how Lourensa Manuel and her dog, Selah, were moved to the City’s Safe Space, but she didn’t stay there because she would be forced to give up Selah.

“I’m very stressed out at the moment … I’ve no idea what I’m going to do. I’ve lost everything in this process.”

Collecting what he can, this man was waving a South African flag.

Police start removing people.

Police ask people to leave.

A woman is dragged from the site after refusing to leave.

After being dragged out, she lay crying on the ground. Help was offered by her family but she refused to move.

She then attempted to attack an officer. She was later seen running into the middle of the road, brick in hand, against traffic before she was apprehended by police.

Tensions continued to rise as people claimed that their bags were stolen.

A fire broke out amongst the tents during the eviction. It is unclear how it started.

A metro police offer attempts to put out the fire.

As the fire grew, people tried to remove their belongings that were situated near the fence.

Firefighters eventually arrived to put out the fire.

Ward 54 councillor Nicola Jowell (DA), told GroundUp the eviction was conducted in an “orderly process”. She said the sheriff had been at the site several times to inform people.

“A lot of the occupants had already left. The City remains on the scene to remove all the litter, debris and building materials. Social development were at the site as well,” said Jowell.

“There has been a long process of engagement. It’s unfortunate that it’s come to the point where the eviction had to be carried out. Every undertaking has been made to assist people off the street. We do hope that those offers, if they’re not already taken up, are now taken.”

City statement

Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith released a statement on Thursday morning, saying the eviction was underway after “a roughly two-year legal process”.

“During this period Law Enforcement’ displaced people unit and the City’s social development officials engaged the illegal occupants on multiple occasions to offer them alternative accommodation.

“These offers of alternative accommodation are continuing today,” stated Smith.

“The City is committed to clearing occupied public spaces across the Metropole. We are increasing our safe space footprint and adding resources to our displaced people unit within Law Enforcement.”

TOPICS:  Housing Land Unemployment

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Write a letter in response to this article


Dear Editor

If the city of Cape Town has prepared alternative accommodation, there is no excuse to stay. You can not afford to be too soft, these are mostly people with mental issue problems, drug and alcohol related addictions and possibly criminal intent. The government is too useless and broke to have decent institutions to send these people to. Agricultural farms should also be available for many of these people so they can work and feel better about themselves.

Dear Editor

Stop making these people out as homeless. They had ample opportunities offered by the City to relocate to safe places. Residents are paying huge amounts to rates and taxes.

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