More than 500 residents were evicted from a block of flats in Nellmapius by the Red Ants on Monday.
Yesterday, they said they would disrupt voting and burn down voting stations if need be. “No one will vote in Mamelodi. There won’t be voting stations,” said a resident.
Scores of evicted occupants yesterday lined the street with their belongings. Some desperately tried to salvage what was left; others looked defeated.
The illegal occupants had promised to make the township ungovernable, but then retracted and admitted defeat. “It would be unfair to block roads and inconvenience other people to go to work or school. They have done nothing wrong. We want to punish the government,” a community leader said.
Several residents said the ANC had committed “political suicide”. They said they had occupied the blocks of flats because of the government’s failure to provide housing. “The only time they know we exist is when they want our votes. We are done being played fools they are not getting our votes,” said Sithembele Ngobeni.
Others said they were going to simply boycott elections, citing terrible leadership in the country. They said neighbouring areas which include Silver Lakes, Equestria and Faerie Glen were receiving services.
The ANC had been in control of the City of Tshwane until the DA-led coalition took over in August 2016, during which the houses - two bedroomed flats with a shower and a bath - were built.
And although without taps or basic services such as electricity meters and running water, occupants said it was better than living in a crowded yard with parents.
Most of them said they didn’t mind paying for services.
Residents who had occupied the flats since the beginning of March said they could not wait any longer for the City to allocate the houses, which had been empty and vandalised for the past three years.
They also complained that Mamelodi residents were not getting first preference for the units, and that “outsiders” were inclined to live in them.
Meanwhile, illegal occupants were forced to return to their families, while some shacked up with nearby friends. Others were accommodated at the Mamelodi East police station.
Many of those who were left without a roof over their heads told the Pretoria News they were desperate with no alternative.
They took their blankets and clothes to the police station, especially when it started raining.
Tshepo Mogase said he felt embarrassed going back to his family’s house. “I felt like a man when I moved out of home. I felt independent to start my own life. But now I have to go back with my tail between my legs,” he said.
Human Settlements Department spokesperson Keith Khoza said they had a valid court order for the eviction which was granted last year.
He said the units had their beneficiaries already and the illegal residents had no business being there.
Khoza could not give a specific date when the eligible beneficiaries were supposed to move in.
“It will be pretty soon, as the project is nearly at the tail end,” Khoza said.