Durban - Embattled Phoenix residents, renting flats built by controversial property developer Jay Singh, say they have been intimidated into dropping court cases against him.
Residents also claim being “coerced” into signing debt acknowledgment documents.
Singh’s spokesman has denied such activities, stating that a “consultative procedure” was taking place at the various complexes in Phoenix.
Singh’s company, Woodglaze Trading, was accused by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) of fraudulently obtaining R236m from the Social Housing Regulatory Authority by setting up a social housing company, Moko Rental Housing Project, to obtain funds to buy the flats from itself.
The NPA stepped in earlier this year after numerous complaints and legal challenges by residents who alleged that Singh obtained the land and the housing deal corruptly, and further had built shoddy flats/homes,
Singh won his case against the State last week and obtained a preservation order on his assets.
Pietermaritzburg High Court acting Judge Peter Olsen ruled more than 1 000 low-income flats preserved by the State must be returned to Singh, and about R3 million a month should no longer be paid to a curator, but back to Woodglaze Trading.
Since the court victory, Singh, via his spokesman Mervin Reddy, said: “Tenants in Woodglaze Flats owe more than R7 million in rent and they can rest assured that the court of law has been issuing eviction notices in favour of Woodglaze against unpaid rentals by tenants.”
Spokesman for the Phoenix Residents Association Mervin Govender said Singh had come to each flat this week, followed with a large group of men, some armed, and intimidated residents.
“People are scared here, they don’t want to say or do anything for fear of being targeted again,” said Govender.
He said Singh was asking the residents, who have challenged the eviction notices in court, to drop the court cases and pay arrears rent.
“People here are poor, this low-cost housing was meant for people who have a low income,” said Govender. People wanted the intervention of the national housing department.
Singh’s spokesman Mervin Reddy said they were working with residents to find a solution to the problems.
Tenants in arrears were being asked to speak to Mr Singh individually, as to how they can make arrangements to pay. Those unable to do so would be given time to find alternate accommodation. Some tenants were R67 000 in arrears.