Desperate families invade ’vacant’ flats in Pretoria housing project
Pretoria - Residents who have illegally occupied R187 million worth of flats in Olievenhoutbosch Extension, Tshwane, are adamant they will not move despite a looming court process to evict them.
Coming from areas such as Alexandra, Atteridgeville and Mamelodi, they moved into the flats over the past few months. The flats were still under construction.
The 945 flats were built by the Gauteng Human Settlements Department.
Eric Monyamane, one of the residents, allocated himself a unit at the weekend together with almost 100 other people.
The 39-year-old said the flats had been vacant for some time.
Monyamane said they had pleaded with the government to give them the land and flats to no avail.
“Government cannot deny us these flats because we have nowhere else to go. I need to have at least a home of my own.”
He plans to live there with his son for the rest of his life.
“These are now our flats and we are here to say, ’tell the government to keep its court eviction’.”
A man referred to as “Stokies” who has been living in a back room in the area said he lost his job at a courier company when companies laid off people because the impact of Covid-19.
“It is difficult to provide for the family because there is no income now. My landlord wants rent and threatens to kick me out,” he said.
His sentiments were shared by other invaders, some of whom said they had heard through family relatives that flats were being occupied.
“We rented a truck to load our belongings and so this is our new home. We don’t care about the government. Tell them a hungry stomach knows no laws,” said another resident.
Another resident, who was one of the first to move in, said the only way for the government to take them seriously was if they occupied every single open room.
“We cannot go and close the roads and vandalise everything we see. The only thing that we will do is occupy any open accommodation.”
The man, who does odd jobs in the community, said he had applied for an RDP house more than 35 years ago and was still waiting, while he saw others who applied later getting houses.
According to him the only way to respond to a “corrupt government” was to act.
Gauteng Human Settlements Department spokesperson Castro Ngobese said: “We are aware of illegal occupation or invasion of flats/houses. This concerns us as government.
“We are working with relevant law enforcement agencies to put an end to this. We are also appealing to our communities not to be co-opted or misled to partake in such illegal occupation or invasion of flats/houses.”
The matter was before a competent court of law, he added.