‘WE are not going to leave, we will fight them to the end and this only ends when we are given a permanent home!’
This is the defiant statement that Aminata Sellu made to the 60 local residents and supporters that had massed on Aminata’s balcony to stop her eviction on Tuesday morning. Aminata and her family live in the council estate on Benhill Road, Camberwell, south London.
The council want to demolish the entire block and build private flats. They have already begun driving families out and boarding their flats up with metal plates, but Aminata refuses to go, unless she is given a permanent place to stay in the borough so that her children can go to school, and she can go to work.
A cheer went up as the attempts to evict Aminata and her family by burly bailiffs and scores of police was thwarted by the sheer determination of the community to defend her right to a home. At 11am on Tuesday morning three bailiffs flanked by around 20 police arrived to attempt to forcibly evict Aminata, her three young children and her elderly mother.
However, they were seen off by the mass picket. After the police and bailiffs scuttled off, Aminata addressed her supporters. She said: ‘I have tried my best with the council but they are not giving me any help. They just want me and my three young children out on the street.
‘They want to damage my children’s future. We have a right to live here. It is our human right!
‘Housing is the foundation of life, we have to fight for it. My children are in uniform and they are ready to go to school. How can they go to school today?
‘If they did go to school they could come back and there not be home for them to return to.
‘We drove them off today. We will fight and we will win this fight. What does the government expect us to do with our kids? Do they expect them to sleep on the street? They told me to move to Birmingham or Newcastle. How can they dictate to me as a human being where I am going to live?
‘I just started a new job in September. I could not go to work today and could lose my job because of this. I am never going to give up until I get a permanent home for me and my family.’
Ittai Welby said: ‘I have been involved in Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth. Housing is such an important issue. I am from Lewisham and there are a lot of new buildings being built which are not affordable and they are decanting people out of the area and where are they going to go?
‘Aminata has already been made homeless before and they housed her in this place that they already had plans to demolish. That is disingenuous! People must have permanent council homes with assured tenancies.’
Asher Bennett from Walthamstow Young Socialists came down with his fellow Walthamstow member Chey to support the struggle. He said: ‘We decided to come down to support Aminata and her family as fellow comrades. Firstly, I am friends with her daughter and secondly she deserves to feel safe in her home. Southwark council is one of the main culprits. They have not provided stable safe council housing.’
Stephanie Webber said: ‘I was here earlier in the year to stop Aminata being evicted then. We were successful then and we have been successful today. There is too much of this going on. Soon only well off people will be able to live in London. I was involved in the campaign at Sweets Way estate in Whetstone where they evicted masses of people.
‘The Ministry of Defence owned that property. A company called Annington was set up exclusively to buy Ministry of Defence properties. Each individual home was sold by the Ministry of Defence to Annington for just £400. They were also given a 1,000-year lease for free.’
Claudia Marin said: ‘I live on Peckham Road. It is a very small flat and there is three of us living there. They want to evict us. It is very difficult to find somewhere to live. The landlords are putting up the rents. I have come to support the struggle and stop Aminata’s eviction.’
Amano Amir said: ‘I have come down here today to defend my fellow tenants from eviction. These evictions are unfair. the council and bailiffs and police try and intimidate and threaten tenants. This is blatant social cleansing. The privateers are too greedy. They have caused enough damage as it is and we will take no more.
‘They want to demolish this block and build private flats. Aminata and her children must not be evicted. All for one and one for all. This could happen to any one of us so we must stand together.’
Another resident of the estate on Benhill Road, Fardowsa Jama, said: ‘I am in the same situation. The council say that I have to move and I say I will not move!’ Tracey Beresford, who also lives in Benhill Road, said: ‘These people are my neighbours, I have come to support my neighbours. I can not imagine what it is like to live with the threat of eviction living over them.’
Cat Allison told News Line: ‘I have come today because I want to oppose the eviction of Aminata and her family. Southwark housing policy is one of the worst offenders for social cleansing, for flogging off council homes and public land to private developers and housing associations, which are no better than private developers.
‘The eviction rates are appalling. They were pulled up in a court for burning the belongings of a tenant that was evicted. They have total contempt for the working class. Last time they tried to evict Aminata there was popular resistance and today we have done it again. We will support Aminata and her family in their fight and their right to stay and be housed.’
When the bailiffs realised that there was no way that they were going to be able to proceed with the eviction and retreated they issued her with a ‘Notice of Eviction’ from the County Court of Lambeth.
The letter read: ‘The bailiffs attended to carry out the eviction on 13/10/15 at 10:50am and were unable to execute the warrant of possession.
‘Subject to the non-compliance of the original notice of eviction, the bailiff(s) may now re-attend at any time and enforce this order. You should arrange to leave the property (land) with your belongings.’ The struggle continues!