The City of Cape Town has taken occupancy of the so-called Little House on the Prairie in Belhar after a lengthy legal battle to evict the occupants.
‘The City has taken a tough stance against nefarious activities being conducted on its property. The culmination of a near decade-long battle to reclaim the Little House on the Prairie should serve as a warning to others using Council Rental Units for illegal activities that, as part of our commitment to building a safe city for our residents, we will go all out to put a stop to these illegal activities – no matter how long it takes.
‘This is a significant victory in the City of Cape Town’s fight against drugs and drug dealing. The City will transform the former drug den into a multi-purpose Safety and Security facility as a symbol of its victory over gang violence and drugs in the area. I will also investigate the possibility of laying charges of malicious damage to property against Mr Blankenberg,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith.
The Council-owned property appeared on the City’s radar in November 2006 when the National Prosecuting Authority advised the City that they were proceeding with criminal prosecution of a gang leader with links to the property and that the City should be proceeding with an eviction application. The City enlisted the services of the South African Police Services, Metro Police and Law Enforcement to investigate the allegations. It was then also found that illegal structures and extensions had been constructed on the property without City permission and in contravention of the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act.
Some structures and their occupants also encroached onto the adjacent property owned by Airports Company of South Africa. Furthermore, business and criminal activities were being conducted at the property and unlawful occupiers were residing there.
The City of Cape Town instructed its attorneys to proceed with eviction proceedings, but matters were delayed by criminal legal proceedings against gang members. In May 2007, the City notified the occupants of its intention to cancel the lease. The cancellation became effective on 31 August 2007. Eviction proceedings were launched in November 2010, but some of the occupants on the property opposed the process and sought relief from the Constitutional Court after the Western Cape High Court ruled in the City’s favour.
On 9 September 2013, the Constitutional Court dismissed their application for leave to appeal the High Court decision, concluding that the application had no prospect of success. The date for take-over was arranged by agreement between the parties to be 1 November 2013.