By Marvin Charles Time of article published Aug 9, 2020

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Cape Town – A group of people who have been illegally staying at the former SA National Circus School next to Hartleyvale Stadium in Observatory are petitioning the City to lease the property to the residents.

The calls come after several failed negotiations with the City, with eviction orders having been served.

The petition addressed to mayor Dan Plato stated: “As Observatory residents and supporters from outside the suburb, we call on the City of Cape Town to halt current attempts to evict residents on the property at 2 Willow Road, Observatory, and enter into negotiations with the Observatory Civic Association and the Willow Arts Collective towards leasing the old circus school land for this innovative community-driven project.”

The Willow Arts Collective is a community project based within the Hartleyvale sports precinct in Observatory, Cape Town, and it has begun to turn a neglected piece of land into an urban vegetable garden that provides locally grown, organic vegetables for the community.

Resident Moyo Uno said: “We aim to lease or purchase the City of Cape Town-owned property , formerly known as the SA National Circus, and turn it into the first multi-use centre for heritage, arts, recreation and sustainable living in the Southern Suburbs.”

So far, the petition has more than 800 signatures and residents have until August 15 to make their voices heard. At least 24 residents have been staying on the property.

Since 2018, they have been served with eviction notices from the City, which wants to use the land for sport and recreational activities. Last month, the eviction case was postponed and the magistrate ordered the parties to hold meaningful engagements.

Mayco member for community services and health Zahid Badroodien said: “Unfortunately, as you know, the previous leaseholder had illegally been subletting the land to individuals that have since grown in number and have further begun to use the land outside of its intended sporting purposes.

“The Hartleyvale sporting precinct boasts a proud heritage as a community sport facility but current unauthorised activities are not only threatening this asset, but its continued use as a recreational space. The City has and will continue to engage with the occupiers to offer alternative forms of accommodation which have up to now been refused.”

Cape Argus

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