Johannesburg - Gauteng Human Settlements MEC Jacob Mamabolo has signed an agreement with the Red Ants to conduct evictions as humanely as possible to ensure future evictions do not infringe on the human rights of residents.
Last week, there was a public outcry when the firm evicted scores of residents on the coldest day in Joburg.
Mamabolo said the deal with the Red Ants would give the department 48 hours’ notice before an eviction was carried out so vulnerable groups could be notified.
The agreement included that people facing evictions should be given pamphlets communicating their eviction to them clearly.
“We must make sure that the orders are properly disseminated and vulnerable people are protected,” said Mamabolo.
“My plea is when you go to an environment to evict, unless there are heavily armed gangs, check children, the elderly (and) prioritise them and their safety,” he said.
Mamabolo said he hopes the memorandum would assist in monitoring and decreasing the violent nature and destruction associated with evictions.
He said their intervention is not intended to stop the execution of eviction orders.
“Ours is to assist with the protection of vulnerable people during evictions. This is a new chapter that we are trying to open and it is not going to be an easy task,” said Mamabolo.
Red Ants chief executive Johannes Bosch said the company was unfairly implicated in the violent evictions. He said there was a rise in unregistered eviction companies operating like armed gangs.
Bosch said the Red Ants do not conduct illegal evictions and intervened only when the situation was too dire for the sheriff.
The rising trend of illegal evictions and attachments obtained through corrupt and fraudulent practices was stated as a major concern and both parties agreed to work together to control the problem.
Mamabolo said it was this new working relationship with the Red Ants that halted the eviction of 350 families with a fraudulent court order in Jeppe on Friday.
“The eviction was going to be carried out and leave the families without a roof over their heads. We intervened and realised the eviction order was fraudulent.”
The department will release a call centre number for residents to check on the legality of evictions.