Mamelodi flat invaders dig in heels; won't move out
More than 250 backyard dwellers who had illegally occupied Matimba flats in Extension 5 had until last Wednesday to evacuate. The Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, heard the application for their eviction and ruled that they had to vacate the flats.
The flats - with two bedrooms, a kitchen, toilet and shower - are on Solomon Mahlangu Drive and have been a bone of contention since their construction.
Some residents said they were not intimidated by the ruling and would continue to occupy the flats. By Saturday, some illegal residents were seen roaming around the flats with others cooking and doing household chores to send a clear message of defiance.
Many said if need be, they would hold the entire Mamelodi hostage and disrupt all business activities.
A WhatsApp message has since been circulating, which reads: “Tsamaya Road and other main roads leading to and out of Mamelodi will be blocked tomorrow from 4am...”
Signs of disruption were evident when garbage was dumped outside Councillor Collen Marishane’s house after last week’s court ruling. The next day a local ANC office was set alight, allegedly by the flat invaders.
A resident who refused to be named said a serious war was brewing in Mamelodi. “People are sick and tired of this housing saga. There’s constant planning of disruption and holding Mamelodi hostage until we get what we want,” he said.
Another, Kgothatso Mogadime, warned the City of Tshwane and provincial government: “Don’t fight with people who’ve got nothing to lose. We want what is ours, and we will take it."
Human Settlements MMC Sello Maimane said the flats were at 97% completion when opportunists moved in. “Minor things still needed to be completed like plumbing and electricity. By law, we cannot just put people in without water and electricity.”
He said the eviction order did not require the City to provide the invaders with alternative accommodation.
“The order granted to the City was that these people need to vacate the building within seven days. It didn’t say we have to provide alternative accommodation.
“The sheriff was expected to serve them with notices. They are expected to vacate on January 27 (today).”
Before the illegal invasion, the City had already started allocating the units to qualifying and approved beneficiaries, Maimane said. “This means beneficiaries are given unit numbers to open municipal services with the City.”
Meanwhile, MEC for Human Settlements and Urban Planning and Cogta Lebogang Maile also warned the invaders to vacate the building. “We will remove people who occupy houses illegally. We are not going to be blackmailed. It is wrong. We have to be decisive in dealing with people who occupy houses and land illegally."