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Fiery end to Green Point’s ‘Tent City’ as homeless evicted

Fiery end to Green Point’s ‘Tent City’ as homeless evicted
Muriel Baard saves what she can after a fire breaks out at “Tent City” in Green Point during an eviction. (Photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

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 relocate voluntarily. 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 ensuing chaos 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.

Green Point tent city

Muriel Baard sits with her belongings before the start of the eviction. Baard said that she didn’t know where she would sleep. (Photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

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 be 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. (Photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

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 have been 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. (Photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

Police start removing people. (Photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

Police tell people to leave. (Photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

A woman is dragged from the site after refusing to leave. (Photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

Green Point tent city

After being dragged out, she lay crying on the ground. Help was offered by her family but she refused to move. (Photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

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. (Photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

Tensions continued to rise as people claimed that their bags had been stolen. (Photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

A fire broke out among the tents during the eviction. It is unclear how it started. (Photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

A metro police officer tries to put out the fire. (Photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

As the fire grew, people tried to remove their belongings that were situated near the fence. (Photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

Green Point tent city

Firefighters eventually arrived to put out the fire. (Photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

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

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

“During this period Law Enforcement’s 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.

“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.” DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • andrew farrer says:

    Great, now can COJ please do the same along the spruit

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      What so many people seem to completely miss is that failure to enforce the laws of our country over the last 30 years is the primary cause of our largely destroyed economy and millions of our people being currently unable to find jobs.

      Enforcing the law is the single most important and effective tool there is for getting our South Africa onto the right track; a track to a destination in which jobs exist and people are able to be properly cared for by the state.

      Our laws are not always nice, they are not always fun, but they have evolved over many many years of societal development and in the main exist for very good reason.

      Connect the dots people and support the law, and vote for the parties that fight to enforce it.

      It is literally the most important thing you can do, for yourself, and for every South African, regardless of your race, gender or religion.

  • David Walker says:

    Well done to the City of Cape Town for completing a difficult but necessary task. We simply cannot allow shack settlements to spring up in the middle of high-value neighbourhoods. The damage to tourism, property values and the economy would run into billions. I also support the City of Cape Town’s efforts to provide as many homeless shelters as budgets allow.

    • Johan Buys says:

      David: with respect, qualifying your comment with “high value” merely entrenches the view that CPT has a NIMBY attitude to dealing with a very real problem. You want domestics, gardeners, cleaners, security guards, car park and fuel station attendants, cashiers and laborers but you want them to commute from far away where they can disappear to, so as not to spoil the view – and your property values. All this while all your sewers run untreated into the ocean. Take a long, hard look at your core values.

      • Geoff Coles says:

        Think, Johan, think!

        • Grant Turnbull says:

          I am not convinced these people are truly homeless. Many come from rural areas where they have homes and or they have caused trouble with drugs and alcohol and their families have turned them out.
          They choose to arrive in a city and expect free accommodation. No country can allow this. They must make proper arrangements before arriving with no job, no money and squat.
          It is mob rule gone wrong.

      • Bob Ludlow says:

        Your relevance??

      • J vN says:

        How far do you live from your local squatter camp, Mr Buys? I would bet not within visual distance.

        Pot, kettle, much?

      • R S says:

        Johan, sadly I think you make a very big leap from “shack settlements” being a problem to “working class people are a problem”. If a significant number of people living in these tent cities are employed as working class people then I will retract my statement, but I think that the majority of people living in these “shack settlements/tent cities” are not employed individuals. At least, they aren’t in my area.

      • Ben Harper says:

        Completely off the mark there, it IS a high-value area, for tourism which supports a large part of the city’s revenue and tens of thousands of jobs. Much like the squatters that were removed the hijacked city building a few weeks back, these people were offered alternate accommodation but refused, they were also informed they would be evicted well in advance. I suppose you want an anarchy where anyone can do whatever they want whenever they want, wherever they want and like J vN said, you’ll support the free-for-all until it’s in your back yard

      • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

        For heavens sakes.

        Everyone in our country is better off if laws are enforced.


        Since when did “pick and choose your desired law” become the norm.

        @johan, if you don’t like a law, vote / lobby to get it changed, but until then it is your duty as a citizen to support the laws of our country, not undermine them.

    • J W says:

      None of the tent dwellers have jobs.

      • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

        Sad indeed, but it does not wntitle people to break the law.

        For jobs there is a separate solution: voting in 2024 for the party that best enforces the law gives everyone the best chance of creating and finding employment.

  • Kel Varnsen says:

    It is very sad to see, but when a tent city appears 100m away from your home, like it has with us in Observatory, then this affects your views.

  • J vN says:

    There is not some bucket of rights from which a government can dish out rights to all and sundry, completely free of charge. Rights come at a cost to others. If there is a right to healthcare in the constitution, for example, another guy – the taxpayer – sees his freedom and right to spend his own money as he chooses, being curtailed, because he pays more taxes to pay for the healthcare of strangers.

    Likewise with all these rights dished out to these squatters. Their right not to be evicted, diminishes the rights of property owners in the area. The legal property owners pay for the rights of the illegals to break the law, by seeing their property values plummet and by having to pay for the officials to evict the squatters via their rates and taxes. Their right to own property and not to have it arbitrarily taken from them, gets diminished in the process. These bleeding-heart lawyers and judges are taking rights away from property owners and are rewarding illegal occupiers for breaking the law.

    This is the huge problem with SA’s Bill of Rights. It only focuses on rights, but not on responsibilities. On the contrary; behaving irresponsibly and illegally occupying other people’s property actually gets rewarded. Some like to pretend people have a right to receiving social grants, but this again removes some rights from those who pay for the grants, and this so-called right is not balanced by the responsibility not to procreate recklessly.

  • Random Comment says:

    As upsetting as these pictures may appear, the hard reality is that this eviction had to happen or Cape Town will end up like downtown Johannesburg.

    Like it or not, you either have a city where laws and bylaws are enforced; or one where lawlessness, building hijackings, slumlords, anarchy and death rule the roost.
    See: “Joburg inner-city fire – at least 73 dead, over 50 hurt as flames tear through hijacked building” on this website

  • Agf Agf says:

    About bloody time. It’s taken long enough. It’s the thin edge of the wedge. Tent towns should NEVER be allowed in any city. Look at San Francisco and Los Angeles as examples of cities which have been absolutely ruined by such practices. Of course they have left wing woke Democratic administrations which are happy to promote tent towns.

    • Adam Weilbach says:

      what is your solution?

      • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

        Governments enforce laws. Citizens obey them.

        It is the basic building block of society. The rest follows.

      • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

        Laws are in effect a cumulative knowledge base of societal evolution, refining over hundreds if not thousands of years, all working together in a complex tapestry that literally defines society today.

        And, I can say with 100% certainty that if you think you know better than the law, you are wrong.

        The solution is simple and we can all help:

        Obey the law and support it.

        We will all be (a lot) better off.

        Including these people, who should not in fact need to live in tents at all.

        Does this help?

  • Walter Spatula says:

    Ugly but necessary.

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      AND beneficial for all South Africans, ultimately even those being evicted.

      It is this difficult leadership in support of our laws that South Africans so desperately need, whether we realise it or not.

      Thank you CoCT.

  • ST ST says:

    How nice that some of us get to complain about views and property prices. As legitimate as those complaints can be for one group, the other group (starting from generations past) have and had every right to be afforded education, land, housing, job opportunities etc that were afforded to many of those who get to complain today. Imagine if roles were reversed. It’s a problem you and your children will never face unless you drop a massive ball. Have compassion.

    The apartheid system made your life easier but harder for some. If you’re not sure how generations today are finding it hard to catch up…imagine you’re running a 10k and your counterpart has been drive halfway!

    • Ben Harper says:

      Living in the past helps no one, ignoring the law helps no one and takes the country further and further down that slippery slope to oblivion. The current government have had 30 years to change the life of people, have they? No, they’ve made it worse for a whole lot more people so your post is moot and continuously blaming what happened more than 30 years ago is saying you’ve given up hope and would much rather blame the past than the ineptitude, failures and outright destruction of the country by those whom you hoped would be your saviour

    • J He says:

      Allowing them to squat on the tennis court isn’t ‘affording them land’ though. The uncomfortable reality is that some people don’t want to accept help or don’t want to give up drugs to make a better life and the easy way out is to squat and cry when something is done about it. Look at the lady who won’t give up her dog to be able to stay in the shelter? I’m sorry but if it comes to living or owning a pet I choose living and giving the pet to someone who can afford it (and I say this as someone who won’t get a cat until I feel I can comfortably look after it).

    • Random Comment says:

      “imagine you’re running a 10k and your counterpart has been drive halfway!”

      30 years and MANY TRILLIONS of rand in tax revenues, BBBEE, EE, preferential access to universities, NSFAS, free schooling, free medical, racial quotas in every field and sphere of life…

      Which parties have been “driven halfway” and which have been discriminated against in the last THREE DECADES?

      The OUTCOME may not fit your worldview but that’s not due to a lack of money or legislation promoting certain groups over others.

    • Matthew Quinton says:

      Cry me a river. If you feel so strongly about the plight of these people why don’t you invite a couple to live in your home with you? Sorry ST ST, but after 30 years of slogging through the shit show of the new South Africa, most of us have fought tooth and nail to have what we have now. These tent cities are predominantly occupied by junkies and criminals. There are PLENTY of foreign nationals and South Africans who have started with less than nothing, and in 1 generation have built themselves up top having a good life for themselves and their family through hard work and sober living. Stop wasting energy feeling sorry for people who generally just want to get high and live for free wherever it suits them.

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      I’m afraid that in focusing on the micro downside, you miss the macro upside completely. Real compassion is giving these people and many many others at least the chance of a future by ensuring we have an economy that works, providing jobs and education for all. Without law, and respect for it as citizens we will never achieve this goal.

      The problem is not a lack of compassion, but rather a lack of adherence to the law by the ANC for 30 years.

      Which needs correcting, and now.

    • Ben Harper says:

      You are completely wrong ion he rights you state here, particularly on land and job opportunity. Everyone has the “right” to own land, this does not mean, in any way shape or form they have a right to free land, they have the right to purchase and own land like any South African, likewise, they have a right to work but they have to qualify and be selected for a job based on merit there is no “right” to be afforded a job opportunity.

  • Hari Seldon says:

    I like JvNs post – South Africans dont have a right to just live wherever they want. And if we go back 500 years it was the same – could a Zulu person just arrive in a Xhosa village and somma erect a hut and take land – no chance – in all likelihood he would not be alive for very long. The reality is squatting deprives others of their rights. [from CoPilot] “In the Western Cape, tourism is a significant contributor to the job market. According to a report from the Western Cape Government, tourism is responsible for creating a combined total of 300,000 jobs. Furthermore, a recent surge in tourism helped the Western Cape fill about 99%, or 167,000 of the 169,000 job gains in South Africa in the three months through December.”

    This is likely direct jobs – indirectly the tourism sector probably employs over a million people in the W.C. Why should their jobs be put at risk by squatters in the city centre and in prime areas where tourists want to visit and feel safe. We need to look after our tourists and the rights of millions that depend on the industry.

  • William Dryden says:

    My Question is where did they come from in the first place, and what makes them believe that they can just squat where they like. As far as the ANC are concerned, if they give them a food parcel, it translates into a vote for them.

  • Iam Fedup says:

    About bloody time! I’m not unsympathetic with these homeless people, but they were given dozens of opportunities to move into various alternatives. They chose to not do so, and “the shelter won’t take my dog” is not an excuse. I gave away three of my beloved pets to good homes because I’m broke.

  • Jerome Abbott says:

    Good day to you.
    With all due respect to the you.
    You talk about alternative accommodation for these homeless people.
    Show us the alternative accommodation you want these people to go to.
    Are you just dumping them somewhere else where they have got nothing to look forward to in life to better themselves or is this move going to make a difference in their daily lives where they can go to at night knowing they will have a decent roof over their heads protecting them from the elements they have to face day in and day out.
    The cake is big enough for everyone in this country of ours. Let us stand together as one nation and be there for one another rich and poor. let us work together and not look down on the down trodden. we as a people can make this country great again, no government can make this country great again no political party can make this country great again, but we the people can, if we stand up against these corrupt political parties all of them. So let us unite as one people of the soil of the land and give God a chance to lead us in this battle for a better life for all in our beloved country South Africa.

    • Ben Harper says:

      Why? What right do they have to that? And what “cake” are you referring to? Where did they live before they illegally occupied land in Green Point? Why can’t they go back there (economic migrants from the failed anc provinces?)? They should be grateful for being offered alternative accommodation – free – at taxpayers expense, it s better than nothing and affords them the opportunity to pick themselves up again, if they’re even capable of that. Incase you hadn’t noticed, the anc ate all the cake and are looking for seconds.

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