A small group of former Schubart Park tenants were celebrating outside the abandoned buildings early Tuesday afternoon, after news reached them that their appeal to the Constitutional Court had succeeded.
“We don’t know where everyone is, and a lot of people are at work, but we’re trying to let them all know,” said one of the group. “We’re very happy.”
Not that they’ll be going back into their flats in downtown Pretoria any time soon. The court gave residents and the city a deadline of January 31 to come up with an agreement that would see the apartments reoccupied, and actually refurbishing the ailing buildings will take considerably longer. Although work on making the buildings habitable again should have been nearing an end by now, under an original timeline, it has not yet begun.
Residents, who have been in what some describe as shocking temporary accommodation for more than a year, are looking forward to an earlier deadline, one for an agreement by the end of November on proper interim housing.
“In Schubart, I was in a two bedroom flat,” said one resident, who did not want to be named in fear of victimisation by the city. “Now I’m in this small place, where my children have to sleep on the same mattress in the living room. Every night I pick bedbugs from my baby. Do you know how sore it is when those things bite you?”
The buildings were emptied in September 2011, after a violent protest that followed an electricity outage of more than a week, leaving residents without water and navigating pitch-dark stairwells 21-storeys high. With rocks raining down from above as police fired rubber bullets over the heads of running women and children, residents and the city argued about whether the action constituted an evacuation in the face of imminent danger or a long-planned eviction under the cover of an emergency. READ MORE…
Daily Maverick‘s Phillip de Wet writes on the protests by Schubert Park residents against the capital city’s negligence. The article reveals the conditions of the flats and the ongoing lack of concern that impacted the people living in them.
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