Johannesburg - In a violent eviction in which 10 people were injured by rubber bullets and allegedly beaten, about 200 families were thrown out into the street on Monday night by the Red Ants, assisted by the SAPS and the Joburg Metro Police Department.
On Tuesday, those who spent the night on the street after being evicted from a block of flats in Joubert Park, Joburg, vowed to stay put until they are allowed into the building.
The residents of Castle Blaney in Leyds Street on Tuesday morning were trying to sort out their belongings and furniture, much of which was damaged.
But Amos Gumede, who heads the Castle Blaney Housing Co-operative, said the residents owned the building and showed The Star photocopied title deeds.
“A co-operative housing company, Cope, which got R1.2 million from government to renovate the building, put the building in our name - the Castle Blaney Housing Co-operative - before it was liquidated. Everything was fine until 2005. We were paying our municipal bills and were up to date, and then we got a bill from the council under another name, Castle Blaney Pty Ltd, for R4.9 million. After that we got other accounts, under different names, which do not belong to us,” he said.
Gauteng MEC for Human Settlements and Co-Operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Jacob Mamabolo on Monday night denounced residents’ violence.
His spokesman Motsamai Motlhaolwa said gun shots were fired from the building.
“The violence which broke out today confirms numerous reports indicating that criminal elements are taking advantage of legitimate housing concerns of the poor inner-city residents to promote their illegal activities.
“It is also clear that criminal gangs are provoking contractors employed by the sheriff to execute the evictions to cause violence and mayhem. Their actions are criminal and we are working with the law enforcement agencies to take drastic action against those who are responsible,” said Mamabolo.
The department, he said, had been in constant contact with the sheriff and all parties involved to advise residents to leave the building before the eviction date.
“After reviewing the case and consulting all parties, we are satisfied that the eviction is legal and is being conducted in a fair and just manner,” he said.
Mamabolo said his department was working with everyone involved to minimise the number of evictions by using mediation, and ensuring that in cases where his department was unable to assist, evictions were carried out violence-free.
He said theirs was a humanitarian approach not intended to undermine the courts, but to pro-actively avert ongoing and “ugly” confrontations associated with most evictions.
“Since the establishment of a provincial evictions task team, we are seeing a new trend in which parties are now allowing us to mediate through the Housing Rental Tribunal thereby assisting in averting pending evictions. Shelter is a human right and restores the dignity of the poor. We need all stakeholders to work together to find lasting solutions to the inner-city housing challenges,” said Mamabolo.