A group of people gather in front of the Maitland Police Station to hand over a memorandum and lay charges against Communicare. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)
A group of people gather in front of the Maitland Police Station to hand over a memorandum and lay charges against Communicare. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Communicare claims police did nothing to stop illegal occupation in Brooklyn

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Mar 16, 2021

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Cape Town - The management of social housing giant Communicare is preparing to lodge a complaint with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) after it accused the Maitland police of doing nothing to prevent illegal occupiers who “hijacked” its units at Goedehoop Rental Complex in Brooklyn over the weekend.

Communicare spokesperson Megan Lennart said: “We complained to the cluster commander and we are preparing an affidavit to IPID.”

The complaint to the cluster commander appears to have had an effect, as yesterday afternoon Lennart said: “After the cluster commander’s intervention, SAPS Maitland are now co-operating with Communicare.”

Earlier, Lennart had said: “On Friday, March 12, Communicare staff, security guards and tenants battled from 9pm to the early hours of Saturday morning to prevent lawful tenants from being assaulted and to secure their property from illegal occupation. All the while SAPS from Maitland, Cape Town and Milnerton stood by and watched the violence unfolding without taking any action to stop the illegal activity.”

Lennart said: “In one incident, SAPS instructed a security guard to allow the illegal occupiers to move into the vacant units. SAPS failure to act has resulted in escalating violence and 24 apartments in the complex being occupied by the trespassers. Several violent scuffles broke out between a group of about 40 people led by two tenants from another of Communicare’s properties.”

Lennart said Communicare had resorted to using private security to safeguard its property and tenants.

Responding to the accusations, provincial police spokesperson FC Van Wyk said: “Maitland police did receive a complaint at Goedehoop Flats, Justin Street, Brooklyn, at about 19:50 where the members spoke to both parties, the security guards and people on the premises.

“Cases of trespassing from the security company and malicious damage to property from the complainants in the flats were registered for investigation.”

Van Wyk said no arrests had been made, but investigations were ongoing.

One of those who lodged a complaint with the police was mother of two Lonelo Cotyi, who said: “As the new residents of Goedehoop, we occupied vacant units on February 26, 2021.”

Cotyi said: “The people who came on Saturday night were not our normal security from Servest, but private foreign individuals with no identification. Six or seven guys came into my flat after knocking once and then kicking in the door.”

She said: “I came out of the bathroom and found them there in my house with a rifle and a bulldog. They said I don’t belong there and began throwing my furniture and things, including my fridge out, of the window. I live on the second floor.

“I went and lodged a complaint at the Maitland police station, and when I came home, my neighbours helped me put my stuff back in the house. It was so traumatic.”

On Sunday, Communicare chief executive Anthea Houston said: “The failure of SAPS resulted in these criminals taking the law into their own hands and threatening our tenants. We have seen hijacking of buildings in Gauteng. There is no end when you allow this to happen without any consequences.”

Cape Argus

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