Woodstock Hospital occupants refuse to move until alternative housing provided

The City of Cape Town said that it wanted to develop the hospital, calling on occupants to vacate otherwise it would pursue eviction proceedings.

The old Woodstock Hospital in Cape Town is currently being occupied by about 1,400 people. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN - Illegal occupiers of the Woodstock Hospital in Cape Town have refused to vacate the premises until they are provided with an alternative housing solution.

In March 2017, Ndifuna Ukwazi's Reclaim the City campaign occupied the old hospital building as part of its push for the redistribution of empty and underutilised public land to poor and working-class people.

The City of Cape Town said that it wanted to develop the hospital, calling on occupants to vacate otherwise it would pursue eviction proceedings.

Once a hospital, it was then left vacant and vandalised and was now transformed into a block of flats that at least 1,400 people call home.

Children can be seen playing in the clean corridors here and their families watching TV from rooms that were previously used for surgical procedures and consultations.

Magdalene Solomons (57) and her husband have made a home for themselves in a space that was once a ward of the Woodstock Hospital.

The couple opened a spaza shop here during the hard lockdown, selling basic items such as tin foods, rice, cooking oil and cleaning products.

Occupier Magdalene Solomons opened a spaza shop during the lockdown period. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/Eyewitness News.

She said that the money they made kept them going.

"I started first with chips and sweets and small stuff for the old people here but then the law enforcement came gave him a fine of R1,000. I was angry."

Solomons was evicted from her home in Woodstock and has been on the housing waiting list for 30 years.

"I applied in 1990. Every week I'm in Wale Street to ask them when and every week they have a different story for me. How long must I wait? I'm not moving out of here. Give me a proper house and then they can move me from here."

She said that they did not want to be left on the streets and remained hopeful that they would get some sort of housing accommodation sooner rather than later.

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