evictions end in violence

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TEMPERS flared in Pennyville, Soweto as angry residents squared off with security guards after eight families were evicted from their homes.

This after a police contingent – including a Nyala police vehicle and several heavily armed officers – a moving van, and two officials from the sheriff of the court’s office swooped on the area yesterday.

The officials had stamped eviction orders issued at the Roodepoort Magistrate’s Court from Diluculo Properties, which owns the flats.

The non-violent eviction quickly escalated into what resembled a warzone after police had left, and residents threw heavy rocks and bricks at security guards who remained after the evictions. Residents chanted struggle songs, shouting “Senzeni na?” as they watched mattresses, clothes, TVs, stoves, couches and fridges being carted out and placed on the pavements.

Some residents have boycotted rental payments for their flats since last year because of poor and hazardous living conditions in the flats.

However, yesterday some residents claimed they were being evicted despite having fully paid their rent.

Sandra Gardener was evicted from the flat which she shared with her three grandchildren, despite showing the officials from the sheriff’s office her proof of payments.

A resident who didn’t want to be named out of fear of reprisals spoke on Gardener’s behalf saying: “This is a grievous error by the authorities. She has been fully paying her rent… how do you save people from this sort of embarrassment? This is a hardworking woman and there is no court order they have to do this.”

Nevertheless, deputy sheriff Sha-e Jahan Hafajee entered each of the flats and served the eviction orders.

Mongezi Mbatha, the residents’ representative, wanted to know how people could be evicted on the day court orders were granted. “Why were residents not given fair warning of these evictions?” he asked.

He told The Star Africa that they would be approaching the court for an interdict to deem the evictions unlawful.

Kenneth Mnisi, a father of two young children, was also locked out of his home. He admitted having stopped paying his rent in February but claimed his reasons were valid.

“The flats are leaking… they (owners) just came to paint the flats but didn’t fix the leaks. I last paid R2 000 but stopped because nothing had been fixed. From this eviction order, I see it is dated April last year but I only received it today,” he said.

Residents barricaded the roads, scattering plastic bottles and rocks to obstruct traffic. The windscreen of an SABC car was damaged during the violent confrontation and The Star photographer Dumisani Dube was prodded by one of the security guards with a taser gun.

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