674 Red ants descend on variuos flats as evictions are carried out around Joubert Park. 040814. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

Johannesburg - A television was dropped from the third floor onto a mattress. It bounced, and the crowd gave a yelp as the screen came free from its flimsy plastic casing.

It was the second television to meet that fate. Then came a microwave. Cupboards. A bag of shoes lowered on a string.

There were hyena-like shrieks as two bottles of whisky made their way over the balcony and down into the hands below. Some of the building’s former residents got so excited, they started jumping up and down on their mattresses, which were laid out in the street.

This was the scene on Monday at a building in Leyds Street, Joubert Park.

Hundreds of residents of the building were being evicted by the Red Ants Security Services.

In June, over 1 000 occupiers of several inner-city buildings made an application in the South Gauteng High Court in Joburg, requesting it to declare that the city had failed to discharge its obligations under section 26(2) of the constitution to provide temporary accommodation for evictees.

The application was in response to the city’s attempt to obtain an order suspending about 30 pending evictions because it does not have land or buildings available to provide for these people.

The council claims this inability to provide alternative accommodation is due to its awaiting the outcome of the Dladla matter, in which residents of alternative accommodation provided by the city are challenging the lawfulness of the accommodation rules.

The residents had varying versions of how long and how much rent they had been paying to live in the building. Some claimed to pay as little as R450 a month, while others paid R1 500.

Some of the residents said they had been in the building for only two months.

A young Red Ant took a break from moving the countless bits of furniture from the multi-storey building.

“I was unemployed. This is a job for me,” he said.

“If the people get angry, well it’s their problem.”

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The Star