Squatters occupy Mandela mansion
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Johannesburg - Zindzi Mandela, who owns a R2 million house in Houghton, has had her property vandalised and invaded by squatters.
Neighbours in the upmarket Joburg suburb are complaining bitterly that the house is drawing bad elements and crime into the area and that it is devaluing their own properties.
The complainants did not want to be named, but said the pavement outside Mandela’s house is filled with rubbish and “rats are running wild in the thick undergrowth”. People urinate and throw rubbish onto the pavement.
“We have complained, but nothing gets done because an influential family owns it,” said one neighbour.
The house, in Fifth Street, has been badly vandalised and has only a few walls and some roofing left. It has been stripped of all electrical fittings and plumbing pipes.
So desperate are the neighbours that they are now asking for permission to tear down the standing walls themselves in an effort to make sure that squatters can no longer live on the property.
“This property, worth a couple of million rand, belongs to a person who last year asked for legal aid in a case involving a burial dispute,” said another neighbour.
Title deeds for the property, seen by The Star, show the registered owner as the Zindzi Mandela Family Trust, and that it was bought for R2m.
The same address is given by Zindzi as her residential address on other legal documents.
It is not known why Zindzi, daughter of Nelson Mandela and his ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, abandoned the property.
The Star has made numerous attempts since November to contact Zindzi for comment through SMSes and e-mails, without success.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation, which was also contacted for a response, said it could not respond on behalf of Zindzi.
A family spokesman, Thato Mmereki, did not respond.
Following complaints by neighbours, city councillor Marcelle Ravid called in the City of Joburg’s environmental health inspectors.
After an inspection was conducted on December 19, a notice was issued to the owners – again listed as the Zindzi Mandela Family Trust – instructing them to clean up the property.
“I received many complaints from the neighbours about this property, so I went through the normal legal channels by reporting it to the environmental health department,” said Ravid.
“It must be attended to. It is the owners’ responsibility, whoever they are, to maintain their properties. If they do not, it will lead to the devaluation of properties in the entire suburb, and this, in turn, will lead to the city losing out on revenue from rates.”
Ravid added that if the owner refused to act, the council would clean up the property and bill the owner.
The cost would depend on how much rubbish had to be removed, but it was usually more than R40 000 for a property of that size.
“Whether this will ever be recovered is another story. I also don’t know if there are outstanding arrears on the property as the city will not disclose this information, saying it is confidential,” she said.
Zindzi was given 21 days to clean up the property. However, the deadline has since expired, nothing has been done and the house remains in the same derelict condition.
The council, through its spokesman Gabu Tugwana, said officials who were attending to this matter resumed work on Monday and would, therefore, be in a position to comment on this matter only after checking their files.