Nine families who have been waiting for nearly three years for keys to their new homes are putting up a fight in the Western Cape High Court after occupiers allegedly hijacked their homes.

The City of Cape Town has been fighting for over two-and-a-half years in court to gain an eviction order and restore the homes to the rightful beneficiaries, reports News24.

In 2021, the night before the nine families were to get the keys to their long-awaited new homes in the Belhar Pentech development, the doors of their new homes were smashed down and a group of occupiers moved in.

An urgent eviction order was launched by Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis to try to restore the homes to their rightful beneficiaries.

However, court processes have been delayed several times by the occupiers for various reasons, including last-minute changes to their legal counsel; failure to secure legal representation despite extensive notice; and most recently a lengthy delay due to their newly appointed lawyer not being familiar with the case.

They resisted the court's instruction to talk to the city about their personal circumstances.

In its heads of argument, the city argued that the issue of the unlawfulness of the respondents' occupation and the question of whether it is just and equitable to evict the respondents from their respective housing units had been placed in dispute. 

‘Central to the latter issue is the allegation by the respondents that they will be rendered homeless if they are evicted, unless the city provides them with alternative accommodation.

The city should not be ordered to provide alternative accommodation to the respondents because each of the respondents is in a position to secure their own alternative accommodation if evicted,’ the city said in court papers, according to News24.

It also said the 10 respondents had cited in court papers that they had made an election to leave their places of residence to take occupation of their current housing units – they were not forced to do so.

The city said: ‘They did so in order to better their circumstances at the expense of lawful beneficiaries who have been waiting on the city's housing waiting list far longer than any of the respondents.

‘In the same way that the respondents were able to source private accommodation before they unlawfully seized occupation of their current housing units, they are able to do so now and they will not be rendered homeless as alleged,’ the city said.

In response, the occupiers said before taking occupation of the properties from which the city sought to evict them, they had been living as backyard dwellers in Belhar.

‘All had lived for many years in Belhar, and all had their names on the housing list for subsidised housing.’

In responding papers, the occupiers said if evicted, they could not return to the backyards because the places that they formerly occupied were no longer available.

The court reserved judgment in the matter.

Full News24 report