Dennis Pather
If you've ever been to the bustling suburb of Overport in Durban, you’ll remember the experience well. It throbs with life and its own distinctive sounds, colours and aromas.

Unlike the prim and unfriendly atmosphere in gated estates to the north, Overport is a warm and welcoming precinct of mainly middle-income families, living in an assortment of apartment blocks, interspersed by busy supermarkets and food takeaways that cater for all tastes.

You can never go hungry in Overport. If you’ve had a hard day at work and got home too late to prepare dinner, no problem. Just pop in next door and you’d be welcomed like a member of the family - and even ask for seconds.

I know because I once lived in the heart of the area, which has produced many leading citizens, including Struggle heroes like Phyllis Naidoo, Strini Moodley and Dr Hoosen Haffajee, to name but a few. It has also produced its fair share of colourful characters like the infamous Salots, famous footballers and cricketers, and popular entertainers.

Many parents started their first homes there in the 1950s and ’60s, and their children attended schools in the area. Hospitals, places of worship, doctor’s surgeries and grocery stores are only a stone’s throw away from home.

But much of that camaraderie and community spirit may soon be a thing of the past, thanks to a few greedy landlords with an eye for a quick buck.

These unscrupulous property barons have decided to kick out their loyal, long-standing tenants because there’s easy money to be made from government-funded students seeking accommodation in the city.

So out on the streets go dozens of families who, for decades, have eked out just enough to afford a rented roof over their heads. Owning their own homes was way out of their reach.

The ploy some landlords used was simple yet cunningly devious. To take advantage of the growing demand for student accommodation, they simply inflated the value of their flats and began demanding rentals that were simply unaffordable.

And when the already over-burdened tenants complained, out came the eviction notices.

This greed for profits has to stop. Many of these inconsiderate and heartless landlords come from prominent and comfortably rich families, and live in luxurious mansions in upmarket suburbs.

They never come into contact with their tenants and hire property agents to do their dirty work. They must be named and shamed when these eviction notices are challenged in court.

Some people may argue that “business is business” and that the landlords are acting within the law.

But the disastrous effects of their actions are no different to what the Group Areas Act did to destroy many settled communities under apartheid.

Save Overport - people are living there.