Durban - A business forum has been accused of terrorising residents of a Durban suburb, trying to remove them from their homes by force.

Residents of the Transnet housing units, in Montclair, allege that the Delangokubona Business Forum is violent and gains entry to people’s homes by kicking in doors. However, Delangokubona denied using violence and said their actions were part of a city-wide clean-up of buildings and houses that had become safe havens for criminals.

Nwabisa Mashalaba said the group had tried to force her family out of their home last week.

“I don’t know these people but they told us we needed to move out of the house and we must take our tenants with us. They told us that the houses should be occupied by local people and not by foreign nationals. They kicked in the door to force their way into the house,” said Mashalaba.

She said the house where she lives with her pensioner mother and two brothers, who work at Transnet, was rightfully theirs - since it was given to her father, a former Transnet employee.

“When my father died some years ago, my mother consulted with the parastatal, trying to understand the status of ownership of the house. She was told that the family had a right to stay in the house. We have tenants in the back rooms, like any other household that wants tenants. The police are aware of this and we hope that they will intervene and stop these people from terrorising us,” she said.

Another resident, who asked not to be named, said foreign nationals were the target of intimidation.

“What’s wrong when a household decides to have tenants of South African or foreign descent? We have also been intimidated by the same group and they made it clear that they will return if we don’t give shelter to local people,” said the resident.

Transnet spokesperson Molatwane Likhethe said: “Transnet has been made aware of disruptive activities taking place in some of the housing units and is seeking legal opinions, while a stakeholder engagement plan - to normalise the situation - is currently being executed.”

Provincial police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said a case of malicious damage to property was under investigation by Montclair police.

“It is alleged that on November 21 at 2.45pm, a group of people came to a house and told the resident to chase away all the tenants. The suspects also broke the complainant’s door. The matter is under investigation,” Gwala said.

Councillor Gavin Hegter said some residents had complained to him about the intimidation.

“The feeling is that foreign nationals are the target here, and this is unacceptable. People should go and report this intimidation at the Montclair police station and I will make contact with the station commander, to get to understand the severity of the intimidation,” he said.

Delangokubona chairperson Nathi “Bhamuza” Mnyandu, said this was part of a bigger effort to clean up buildings and houses of “unwanted people” around the city. He said these people often engaged in criminal activities.

Mnyandu said they had noticed that many buildings and houses had been neglected, and some people would let foreign nationals or criminals live in them. He said this was a long-standing issue that had been kept hidden from public view.

Mnyandu said criminals would steal from nearby suburbs and run back to hide in these areas. He added that there were many locals who needed places to live in, but could not find space.

Mnyandu said they encouraged people to move into these places and make sure that they maintained them. He said they had tried to engage Transnet on these issues about four months ago, but to no avail.

Daniel Dunia of the African Solidarity Network said this had not been brought to his attention yet. 

 Additional Reporting Mphathi Nxumalo

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