Building set alight ‘in bid to stop evictions’

Published Oct 9, 2015


Johannesburg - Mattresses, suitcases, clothes and drawers littered Kerk Street in the Joburg CBD as members of the Red Ants evicted residents from a dilapidated building.

A resident, who asked not to be identified, said the evictees had set the building alight in an attempt to stop the Red Ants and police.

He said the ground floor and the first few floors were partially damaged. Firefighters managed to douse the flames and no one was injured.

“It’s a new tactic that those being evicted have. They set fire to the building to try to stop the eviction,” the resident said.

There were three fire engines on the scene when The Star arrived. Once the fire was extinguished, angry evictees began swearing at the Red Ants as they re-entered the partially burnt building to continue the eviction.

A resident, who identified himself only as Max, said all his clothes were missing.

“They won’t let me back into the building to get my things and now I just have these clothes on my back. I want my clothes. What am I going to do? Where am I going to go?” he asked.

Another resident, who asked not to be named, said he’d be sleeping on the streets.

However, people who lived nearby were pleased about the eviction. “It (the building) is full of thugs and robbers. You can’t walk past without being robbed,” said one man.

A curious onlooker said she had been threatened with a knife and her bag was stolen as she walked past the building recently.

“It’s about time they evicted these people. They are the reason there is crime on this street,” she said.

Tension heightened as The Red Ants threw belongings from the higher floor windows. The evicted residents then began to threaten journalists on the scene, telling them to “f*** off”.

One man approached a team from The Star with a group of others behind him.

“If you take pictures of us we will take your cameras and hit you over the head with them,” he warned.

Another resident picked up a stone and threatened to throw it at journalists if they didn’t leave.

Joburg emergency medical services spokeswoman Nana Radebe said it took firefighters about half an hour to extinguish the blaze.

“The exact extent of the damage cannot be determined yet but we are on scene and are dealing with the situation.”

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