Court orders vagrants to vacate Clairwood home

By SAKHISENI NXUMALO Time of article published Oct 21, 2019

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Durban - About 150 residents, who have been illegally living in a property in Clairwood, face an uncertain future after the court has ordered that they leave the site.

The residents, who have been living on the property for several years, have to vacate by November 1, in terms of a court order.

It’s believed that the property owner first took the residents to court in August 2015.

The legal matter dragged on and a judgment was handed down in the Durban High Court in April this year.

The eThekwini Municipality was a respondent in the matter.

In the judgment, the court found that it was faced with the conflicting claims of the owners of the property and the rights of the occupiers to housing.

The court found that those who occupied the property did so knowing that they did not have the consent of the owner and that the state of the site made it “unfit for human habitation and occupation”.

The court ordered that occupiers vacate the property by November 1 this year.

“I take the view that a period of six months would be sufficient time for the municipality and for the occupiers to take such steps to find alternative accommodation,” the court said.

On the property, there is a dilapidated building which some occupiers live in, while others have built structures around the building.

It’s believed that 150 people live on the property.

The property also has toilets and taps that were installed by the municipality.

Thembisile Magobodi, 51, said that she said been living on the property for more than 21 years with her children.

She said while she was not opposed to leaving the property, she was worried about where they would go.

“We have been hoping that the municipality will at least assist us with an alternative place to stay, as stated in the court judgment, but there is nothing.

“It’s just two weeks before the end of the month and that is stressing us out because we don’t have a place to go to,” said Magobodi.

“The only thing we know from the municipality is that there’s no place they can take us to. It’s clear that we are going to be homeless and we are going to live in the street. I am very heartbroken,” she said.

Residents said they wanted the municipality to at least provide them with tents.

Ntombiyenkosi Msomi, who has been residing in the property since 2002, said she was overwhelmed by the thought that she and her two children might be homeless in two weeks.

Msomi said some of the residents worked in the area as domestic workers, street vendors and at scrap yards.

“I can’t even sleep at night anymore. It’s clear to us that when you are poor, no one cares about you. The ward councillor last came here seeking our votes, after that, he disappeared and doesn’t want to assist us,” said Msomi.

DA PR councillor Sharmaine Shewshunker said by installing toilets and taps, the municipality had formalised the residents’ illegal occupation of the property.

She said that alternative accommodation should have been found for the occupiers because the city knew about the court order for months.

The municipality’s spokesperson, Msawakhe Mayisela, said: “Our response on this issue is that we need to be given space to attend this matter. We will then communicate our next course of action.”

The Mercury

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