"Mostly what I have identified with people on the ground … is that people are not aware of their rights and that is why they are being victimised. Because if a person comes wearing a suit and says, ‘This house is being sold’, that you must move out, ‘We give you a week to move out’, they won’t challenge that, they comply.”
Some of the earliest community-based struggles of the APF centred around housing issues both within the inner-city of Johannesburg as well as within the East Rand region. One of the first community affiliates of the APF was the Thembalihle Crisis Committee (TCC), representing the mostly shack settlement of Thembalihle on the far south of Soweto.
In 2003, the City of Johannesburg attempted to forcibly remove all the residents (over 3000 families) to an area almost 15 kilometres further outside the Metro area. What resulted was an almost week-long ‘Battle of Thembalihle' in which residents led by the TCC and supported by the APF successfully fought off the eviction. Several other attempts at forced removal also failed.
As part of these struggles, in 2000 the APF helped to initiate and then supported the ‘Johannesburg Inner-City Anti-Eviction Campaign' which sought to simultaneously advocate for pro-poor housing and provision of basic services as well as resist (both physically and legally) evictions of poor tenants by the City of Johannesburg.
It was this foundation that laid the basis for what was to become a spirited, consistent and multi-faceted struggle for housing rights (and later linked to anti-xenophobia struggles) in the inner-city taken up by the successor to the APF's campaign in the form of the independent Inner City Resource Centre.
“In Joburg High court I can say we did have our victory because the judge didn’t want to grant the eviction order. Instead he wanted to know if there is any place which was allocated for us. So unfortunately nobody for the local government came, they just sent a two sentence note to the judge and then he was so furious, then he said, ‘No, I can’t
They tried to bribe us, saying maybe we can have R500 000 of which, when you calculate it, each person must have R85.00 - what can we do with R85? We are homeless, we don’t have money, we are not working, we don’t have money to buy material maybe to build a shack somewhere else and where are you going to build that shack ‘cause each and every land has its own. So that was that and then the judge didn’t grant any eviction."