Vatheka Halile in the house in Camps Bay.
- The collective of artists and LGBTQI+ people occupying an Airbnb house in Camps Bay, say they’ve received a notice of motion to appear in court over alleged unlawful occupation.
- In a statement, the group said the matter was set down for Friday, and that they would speak for themselves in court.
- They are attempting to draw attention to disparities between people struggling for safe accommodation, and the potential that often empty “investment” properties provide as a solution to this.
The collective of LGBTQI+ artists which checked into a Camps Bay house with the hope of getting the owner to consult with them over using it as a safe space, has been given a notice of motion to appear in court over their alleged illegal occupation.
Under the banner of “We See You”, the group stated on Wednesday that the application was intended to evict them.
11. there are members of our group who are homeless & unsafe because of their queer identity, who have been through various violences already & we all suffer hate speech online. The homophobic, classist, sexist &racist attention this has brought is taxing in ways we cant explain
— We See You (@WeSeeYou_2020) September 30, 2020
“We have received a notice of motion for an immediate eviction from the lawyer who represents the owner and the property management company,” We See You wrote.
“In the absence of legal representation, we will be representing ourselves in court on Friday, 2 October 2020.”
They expressed gratitude for the solidarity shown by a number of civil society organisations, community activists and individuals.
These included the Triangle Project, Equal Education and the Khayelitsha Community Action Network.
They said that in the past two weeks, the seven activists had also received criticism on social media and two death threats over their “layered, complex and nuanced” protest.
“But we have connected across struggle because we are in solidarity, because we believe in justice, dignity, collective healing and our historical right to be allowed [a] safe space in beautiful areas that we have historically been displaced from; areas we still would never be able to live in,” they explained.
They said not everybody understood what they were trying to achieve, and their silence over the past few days was to give themselves time to rest and heal.
They said occupations across the country were being met with police brutality, while others were struggling to pay rent, and that there were not enough safe spaces for LGBTQI+ people, so they felt it their duty to address this.
They also expressed disappointment at a DA councillor’s condemnation of their move. The DA was known to show solidarity at the annual Pride march in Cape Town.
Through family, friends and supporters, the group raised the money to gain entrance to the Airbnb property and then let the agent know what their intentions were as they stayed beyond the original booking dates. They were given a check-out deadline of 25 September 25 at 17:00, which they did not adhere to.
The group had hoped to speak to the owner about their vision to turn the house into a safe space for LGBTIQ+ people and artists.
They also focused on the history of the Camps Bay strip, saying the legacy of original inhabitants who were forcibly displaced and slaves who helped build infrastructure, had been ignored.
They had, in the meantime, worked on photographic projects and healing ceremonies, in between receiving visitors who supported them.
Last week, the property manager Turnkey365 warned of legal and civil proceedings and the recovery of all costs if they did not leave.
“We sympathise with their cause and support the right to protest within the confines of the law. We intend to fulfil our mandate and protect the legal rights of the homeowner. Equally, we intend to uphold the legal rights of our small business as well as those of our colleagues across the tourism industry as we struggle to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic,” a brief statement said.
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