Durban - A Durban business forum infamous for invading construction sites has been accused of hijacking a building in Point Road.
It has been alleged that the group, known as Delangokubona, has hijacked the Durban Shelter building by instigating tenants not to pay rent.
The forum recently announced its foray into property management, raising concerns about the state of buildings in the Durban CBD. They called for dilapidated high-rise buildings to be renovated for better use, such as the provision of student housing.
On Saturday morning, one person was shot dead and three others wounded when tenants, who were being evicted from Durban Shelter, clashed with security guards. They had been served with an eviction notice on Friday night. A source who asked not to be named said the forum had hijacked the building.
“They basically said the building must be handed over to them or they will tell people not to pay rent.”
Yolanda Zikhali of the Federation for Radical Economic Transformation (FFRET) denied the allegations, saying they had demanded the building be renovated so tenants could live comfortably.
“The building is a pigsty and people are living there and paying between R80 and R100 a night. Because it is in such a poor state, we told the tenants not to pay rent last month. There was an attempt to evict them with a bogus court order on Friday, and people refused to move, said Zikhali.
She said security guards arrived on Saturday morning to evict the tenants. “They were kicking in doors and one person who came out to see what was going on was shot dead and three others were seriously injured.” Zikhali said there was no intention to take over the building; they simply wanted it to be renovated.
Vasthi Williams, a lawyer representing the owners of the building, said the sheriff of the court had served the residents with an eviction notice and there were “problems”.
She said the building had been hijacked. “The people have not paid rent for two or three months. You cannot hijack a building and expect to live there for free.”
She denied claims that her client’s building was in a poor state and that tenants were paying rent of R100 a day.
eThekwini acting head of communications, Mandla Nsele, declined to comment, saying it was a private building.
Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane said eight people aged between 26 and 46 were arrested and charged with murder, attempted murder, assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and discharge of a firearm in a public place.
He said police received a complaint about fighting in Pickering Street outside the Durban Shelter.
“Upon arrival, they were informed that the people living in the shelter were being evicted by the sheriffs. Two victims were allegedly assaulted, shot and taken to hospital. A 30-year-old man later died in hospital,” he said.