Woman battles City over Albow Gardens flat

Shanaaz Button says if the City wants to evict her from Albow Gardens, it must find her alternative accommodation.

Shanaaz Button, whom the City accuses of unlawfully occupying one of its Albow Gardens flats, has accused the municipality of harassing her while ignoring more serious issues at the complex.

Ms Button, a 49-year-old mother of two, has been living at Albow Gardens since 2017. She is one of several people unlawfully occupying units there, according to the City.

In 2020 and again in 2021, she received letters from the City asking her to move out in 30 days and report to the housing office in Bonteheuwel.

Ms Button says the City must offer her alternative accommodation if it wants to her evict her.

Ms Button said her uncle had been renting the flat, paying R70 a month under an indigent plan, and she had been sub-letting it from him for R2000 a month.

Ms Button said her uncle’s lease had been terminated in 2020 – she assumes this was because he was sub-letting – and she now paid the R70 a month.

Ms Button claims amended regulations allow residents who have lived in rental units for more than two years to continue renting them, but the City denies this.

Ms Button said the City spent its resources harassing her instead of policing drug dealing, prostitution and other crimes at the flats.

She said that under the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land (PIE) Act, the City could not evict her without seeking a court order.

“I’m waiting for my actual eviction process to begin,” Ms Button said. “I can’t wait to go to court to be honest with you. Nobody can act until I get the eviction papers.

“Don’t threaten me thinking (I may have to) to pay costs in court… The law clearly states that if you rent stock from the City, it is the City’s obligation to give you alternative housing.”

She said she had requested alternative housing but had been refused.

“I’m not saying I’m not going to leave, but I’m saying give me alternative accommodation for my kids.”

Asked why the City had not followed up on the notices, mayoral committee member for human settlements Malusi Booi said they were following due process in accordance with a new City policy on housing allocation.

As a result, all notices previously served had since been rescinded, Mr Booi said.

“Cases of unlawful occupation are now being processed in terms of the new allocation policy which was approved 31 March 2022.”

A notice to vacate was only served once all options had been exhausted, he said.

He also noted that there “is no regulation or policy provision that states that the City should not evict residents who have been in occupation of properties for two years or more”.

He added: “Once Ms Button’s case has been investigated and reviewed, and all due process followed, the City will advise her of the outcome. It is important to note that each case is dealt with on its own merit.”