I have just come from Gympie Street where Willie Heyn and his family and their belongings are on the street, forceably evicted by an apartheid-era injustice which continues to play itself out today. With no opportunity given to purchase their home, in which they lived for generations, the Heyn family are now in a scene straight out of Les Misrables as the DA-Lead City continues to protect the landed gentry.
That they are pawns in a wider battle involving the status of historically-disadvantaged persons, land-rights and the ownership of prime City real estate is clear. Gympie Street residents were originally evicted in 2006 but decided to cock a snook at the justice system by moving back into different dwellings in the same building. This might be construed as defeating the ends of justice if it were not for the fact that the situation arose out of an historical outrage, a crime against humanity in which the Heyns have borne the brunt of Afrikaner nationalism, and a racially biased economic system which turned them into tenants without any privileges.
About 10 residents of Gympie Street appear to have been illegally evicted yesterday by the sheriff of the court even though residents claim to have won their most recent court case against slumlord “Pastor Roberston”.
This was a surprise eviction with no advanced notice. The sheriff of the court was unable to provide a valid eviction order and residents were only given an ‘attachment order’ of an outdated eviction notice. When residents asked why they were being evicted, the sheriff told them that it was because they allegedly failed to appear in court on the 29th of April, and it would appear that there are parallel legal processes running which are set on a collision course, the aftermath of which will surely have to be decided in Bloemfontein or at the Constitutional Court.
However one feels about forced evictions and the legality of evictions under various Acts, including the constitution, the fact remains, the Heyns have been denied the right to claim damages and have yet to institute proceedings to restore their rights as equal citizens and to avail themselves of the same opportunities which were given to various landlords and developers, who now conveniently forget that racial segregation ever existed.
About 7 people are currently camped out on Main Road, Woodstock, on the corner of Gympie Street. While their children have been taken in by their neighbours, they have nowhere else to go and have resolved to stay on the pavement protecting their furniture until their lawyer overturns the illegal eviction. Private security thugs are currently in control of the homes in question and have bricked up the door to prevent entry.
Advocate Zehir Omar is in the process of bringing an urgent high court application on the grounds the landlord acted stealthily and unlawfully in evicting the Heyn and Petersen families. I spoke to Omar today and he assured me everything was being done to save the Heyns from poverty and life five feet away from the gutter. I fear however, that the nature of the legality of the issues at stake will not suffice in protecting the household from the weather. In a late afternoon conference with Heyn on the pavement surrounded by his worldly possessions and various members of the Heyn and Peterson family, I assured Willy that we had not forgotten the lessons of the past and come what may, an application to restore the status of both families would be made and hopefully justice would prevail.
For more information, please contact Willy at 073 144 3619, Margarete at 072 642 7386, and Mr Omar (lawyer) at 082 492 5207