Salt River residents's homes are "surplus to our needs", says City

Lifetime-residents of publicly-owned property are being evicted by the City to make way for a lucrative property development in Shelley Road, after sitting on paperwork since 1999





Jul 3, 2024

Salt River residents's homes are "surplus to our needs", says City

Residents of Shelley Road in Salt River, Cape Town, are grappling with eviction notices from the City of Cape Town, which has signaled its intention to sell the properties many have called home for their entire lives. These developments coincide with the construction of a new 10-storey residential building in the area, raising concerns about corruption and ruthless revenue-chasing practices.

The City confirmed that nine households received notices indicating the properties were "surplus to its needs", with the council approving their disposal as far back as 1999. "The disposal method has not been decided upon. The City will be engaging the occupants, and it is too early in the process to speculate about matters such as alternative accommodation," stated Deputy Mayor Eddie Andrews.

Andrews added that the new development, approved on April 6, 2023, would include 31 flats and 192 units as part of a boarding house. The notice has left many residents, particularly pensioners, in distress, as they face the prospect of losing their homes and roots in the community.

Sulaiman Appoles, executive member of the Salt River Residents Association (SRRA), linked the eviction notices to the ongoing construction of the new residential building. He accused the City of pursuing a policy of gentrification, aiming to replace long-standing residents with wealthier individuals. "It’s a principal position, it’s a political position of the City of Cape Town," Appoles said.

Residents have expressed deep anxiety and uncertainty. Sheradia Brown, 62, who has lived on Shelley Road her entire life, said, "I grew up on this street, I don’t want to move out of this street. They’ll have to take my dead body out of that house." Brown lives with her husband, who is battling stage four cancer, their daughter, and grandchildren.

Joy Mary Adriaan, 64, has been a resident for 30 years. She recounted how, in 2019, the City informed her that her rental would increase from R243 to R5,500, a decision she successfully challenged with the help of a land and housing organisation.

Another affected resident, Muraad Gaibie, 48, shared his distress, stating, "My grandparents were carried out of this house, my great-grandparents were also carried out of this place. I don’t want to leave this place."

Residents argue that their lives are deeply rooted in the area, with work, schooling, and community connections all within walking distance. They fear they cannot afford rent elsewhere and question why they were not given the option to purchase their homes. Ward councillor Yusuf Mohamed has called for an investigation into the process that led to the issuance of the notices.

The City has made no argument for the necessity of the evictions, or for their justification, and instead insisted that they have the right to treat their residents as they please.

more articles by this author