A place to call home

On 22 March 2017 Western Cape Premier Helen Zille’s cabinet approved the sale of a building in Sea Point that could have been used for social housing. It would have been the first of its kind in the inner city of Cape Town since the dawn of democracy. In protest against the sale, protesters occupied the old Helen Bowden building in an act of civil disobedience. They have been living there unlawfully, risking eviction or arrest.

This is their story...


Originally from Khayelitsha, Tobosindiso previously worked as a domestic worker in Sea Point were she stayed in her employer's back room. She found herself homeless, living under a bridge when her boss moved overseas.


Angela is a Reclaim the City activist and a nurse at Christiaan Barnard hospital. She used to work in Sea Point as a domestic worker where she rented a small room for R2,000 per month. The room was so small it could only fit a small bed. She also had to use an outside toilet.

Betrus with her granddaughter

Betrus is a pensioner, originally from the Transkei. She arrived in Cape Town in 1970 and worked as a cleaner at Sea Point hotel. She was initially able to rent a flat in Sea Point but due to ever-increasing rent prices she’s lost all her savings and had to move away.


Monica is a mother of 4 children. She says the movement is not about getting something for free, it's about getting affordable housing.


Stephie has been part of the movement for 2 years and thinks it's a great opportunity to fight for all low-income earners.


Sheila says the City of Cape Town never had any plans to demolish the Helen Bowden building before they occupied the space.


Elrico is a Reclaim the City activist, originally from the Northern Cape. He joined RTC due to unemployment and not being able to afford a rental.


Busisiwe is an Assistant Nurse in Parow, originally from the Eastern Cape. She moved to Sea Point with her parents when she was young and has been staying in Sea Point ever since. She is in love with and comfortable with the area and hopes there will affordable housing one day.


Janice Healing

Moeketsi Moticoe

Candice Kruger

Rahima Essop
Moeketsi Moticoe

Rahima Essop and Moeketsi Moticoe take you inside the Helen Bowden occupation.
Click here for the podcast.
Watch the video here.