Activists evicted

The group of queer radical activists occupying a Camps Bay mansion are expected in court today after lawyers for the property management group served them a notice of motion for their immediate eviction. Photographer Ayanda Ndamane /African News Agency (ANA)

The Cape Town High Court has ordered the activists occupying a Camps Bay mansion to vacate the premises by today, Thursday October 8.

The collective of artists and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI+) activists under the banner #WeSeeYou appeared in court on Friday October 2.

The group of seven queer activists and artists have been occupying the mansion, which is rented out as accommodation and managed by Turnkey 365, since Friday September 18.

They booked the house for three days with no intention of leaving. They say their aim is to highlight the lack of safe and affordable housing for the LGBTI+ community.

They were given a check-out date deadline, September 25, but refused to leave.

In a press statement, the collective stated that they were there in protest of the many issues affecting them as queer people.

“We believe in justice, dignity, collective healing and our historical right to be allowed safe space in beautiful areas that we have historically been displaced from, areas we still would never be able to live in,” they said.

They said during their stay in the mansion, they have received many negative comments including two death threats. They said most people who didn’t understand their movement forget that they are a diverse group who are doing justice and healing work, sharing experiences and learning from each other.

They added that there are members of their group who are homeless and unsafe because of their queer identity, who have experienced violence and they all suffer hate speech online.

“The homophobic, classist, sexist and racist attention this has brought is taxing in ways we can’t explain,” they said.

Following the court order, Gaby van Wyk, managing director of Turnkey365, stated: “We are pleased that the rule of law and property rights have been upheld. The actions of the #weseeyou collective to illegally hijack a home have caused incalculable damage, pain and suffering. Much-needed confidence in the market has been lost, livelihoods have been placed at risk, and there has been a loss of income. This at a time when we and many others in the tourism industry are desperately trying to recover from the financial devastation of Covid-19.”

The City said alternative shelter would be available in Philippi should members of the collective qualify after three members had said they would be homeless if immediately evicted.