Camps Bay in Cape Town
The Western Cape High Court has ordered the seven queer activists and artists occupying a Camps Bay holiday rental house to leave the premises within a week.
The group represented themselves in court on Friday after the property management company and owner of the house sought to have them urgently evicted.
The court rejected an immediate removal but ordered that the collective, known as WeSeeYou, move out by noon of 8 October. If they fail to do so they will be forcibly evicted and will have to pay legal costs.
According to IOL, Judge Mokgoatji Dolamo acknowledged that three of the activists would be left homeless if they moved out but confirmed with the City of Cape Town that they’d be provided with emergency alternative housing. He also referred the issues raised by the group to the SA Human Rights Commission and the Commission on Gender Equality.
WeSeeYou booked the 5-bedroom house for a weekend but then refused to leave the property for almost two weeks as a protest action against inequality and the lack of access to land and safe spaces, especially for queer people and women.
It appears that the activists have accepted the court’s decision although they insist that their occupation made a positive impact by highlighting important issues facing marginalised people.
“Ya, we live to fight another day,” said Sarah Summers, one of the activists, outside the court. “We are a strong, strong team and more and more people are recognising that this isn’t performative activism; this is artistic, transgressive, peaceful and thoughtful. That this isn’t a joke and that the things that we want, real things, are things that everyone needs.”
Writing on their Facebook page, WeSeeYou said: “Today, we as a collective of queer feminists proved how much of an anomaly we are to the system. We entered a court without any legal representation. Today the reality of the many that we stand in solidarity with, became our lived reality. The fact that many like us do not have access to private legal representation nor subsidized representation proves why actions such as ours become absolutely necessary.
“The ways in which we embodied our feminist politic revealed itself. A small victory towards an inevitable global queering of the law. Aluta continua… We believe this will form part of a historical precedent and we draw strength and are grateful to the many justice-based movements that have paved the way.”
In a statement of their own, TurnKey365 Property Management Group expressed their satisfaction with the court’s decision to uphold “the rule of law and property rights.”
The company added: “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.”