On Friday 21 Feb rioters, who are also residents of Austerville, blockaded the corner of Austerville Drive and Goedehoop street with burning tyres, trees, rocks and other debris, forcing their plight to be heard.
This row was between the disgruntled flat dwellers and the Department of Housing And Human Settlement.
The residents’ frustration can be seen in the broad context of pent-up frustration with the slow pace of housing delivery and other issues in Post apartheid South Africa.
The subsequent forcible removal of homeless single mother, Theresa Warren who has been on the housing waiting list for over two decades was the final spark that ignited their emotions.
On the passing away of the previous occupant, the residents all agreed that Ms Warren should move into the vacant flat, albeit illegally. Subsequently, three days later the Department Of Housing And Human Settlement forcibly evicted her from the residence.
When Councillor Aubrey Snyman arrived on the scene, he requested that the single mother’s possessions be returned to the flat. However, the next morning Ms Warren was startled by security guards from the Department Of Housing, who arrived with the intention of forcibly evicting her, while pointing their rifles, even at the children, including an infant of eight months old.
This is when the neighboring residents began rioting in her defense, stating that; why should Ms Warren continue to be a squatter, when people from outside of the community are cordially being allocated homes.
Patricia Dove of WOW and councillor Aubrey Snyman were at the scene, and helped replace a door to the flat that had mysteriously disappeared during the scuffle.
Mrs. Dove said; I don’t blame the people. They are angry about the status quo. It has been a long time coming”
Andre’ de Bruin of Community Support Group said,”The community must no longer accept the crumbs from the banquet table. It is time to stand up and be heard”
De-Bruin also informed Human Settlements that Ms Warren will continue to occupy the flat irrespective of the fact that they did not want to publically disclose as to whether she is allowed to continue living there.
The fact that forced evictions create a poverty trap that the poor may never escape, and a circle of seasonal destitution which, creates a negative impact on school attendance, while fueling slum formation is a travesty of justice.
The question is; what options does this single unemployed mother have?
If anyone would like to assist Theresa in any way please call 061 754 5103..
By: Lorraine Richards