News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Saturday February 16th 2019

Rent-boycotting Philippi entrepreneurs face eviction

Sandiso Phaliso

                               About 50 small businesses at Philippi’s Eisleben Business Park (EBP), which was set up to assist disadvantaged entrepreneurs but has been plagued by management problems and owes the City about R1.6-million in arrears, are facing eviction for failing to pay rent.

Tenants, organized under the Kuyasa Eisleben Business Park Committee, say they have not been paying rent because they are unhappy at rent hikes and working conditions at the park.

Tenant representative Lulama Hlaphezulu said about 50 tenants had received eviction letters from the City of Cape Town earlier this month.

But Hlaphezulu, who runs an upholstery business from the park, said tenants were refusing to move and had not been paying rent because of complaints about the size of their stalls, leaking roofs and unreliable electricity supply.

She said “bogus management” had also increased rent from R340 to R700 per month, which tenants could not afford.

Tenant Bantu Kwelilanga, who runs a sewing business, said he had a family to feed and with the increased rent and eviction threat, he feared that he might be unable to put food on the table.

Kwelilanga said: “We have the right to open businesses and generate income for our families and the responsibility to pay rent, but the stalls need to be taken care of.”

The park is owned by the Philippi East Development Initiative (PEDI), a Section 21 non-profit company established in 1998, who acquired the park through grant funding from the provincial government. The City of Cape Town is a member of PEDI.

In April, the City’s portfolio committee on economic, social development and tourism dealt with a report that recommended an additional R300,000 in funding for PEDI to pay for a turnaround strategy manager for the EBP. This was in addition to R150,000 already provided.

Referring to the “dire financial situation” of the EBP and PEDI, the report said that during the last 24 months the facility had not been well-managed, prompting PEDI to appoint in May 2007 a manager to put the EBP back on a sustainable footing.

“Due to lack of expertise and mismanagement a very desperate situation developed over the past few years at EBP. Many tenants were (and still are) not paying their monthly rentals and subsequently the EBP is more than R1 600 000 in arrears to the Council.”
If financial support was stopped, EBP would “disintegrate” and add to the depressed economic situation in the area, with about 110 businesses at EBP forced to close down, the report said.

Contacted for comment, the city’s executive director for economic, social development and tourism Mansoor Mohamed said the R300,000 for the turnaround management had been approved. New management had been appointed about one month ago.

He urged the tenants to pay their rent and speak directly with City officials if they were dissatisfied.

He confirmed that eviction letters had been sent to tenants and the City had met the tenants and explained to them why they needed to pay rent. As long as the tenants continued to not pay rent, the City would continue evicting them.

Mohamed said he was not aware of increased rents, but was also not surprised. He said reasons for an increase could be that the park needed to be managed or because water and electricity needed to be paid for. – West Cape News

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One Response to “Rent-boycotting Philippi entrepreneurs face eviction”

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