Court battle as Soweto residents face eviction despite lockdown
According to court papers and letters of correspondence to the occupants, the city has ordered the residents to vacate its property with immediate effect, after they failed to heed an earlier order that gave them until April 14 to leave.
Now this week, Padi Incorporated Attorneys on behalf of the City of Joburg served the occupants with another eviction notice dated May 12, 2020.
The city’s lawyers said while they acknowledged the constitutional right of the invaders, they were “also challenged by the fact that the contractor needs to commence work (on the houses) immediately as further delays will have adverse financial implications for our client”.
Those being threatened with evictions include more than 200 people from Kliptown and Pimville, Soweto, who illegally occupied the unfinished RDP houses after being on the “waiting list” for more than two decades.
The people then moved into the incomplete houses in April 2018. The housing project was started in 2010 by the city but halted due to an alleged contractual dispute.
The occupants argue that prior to April 2018, the houses were vandalised and all movable property stolen. Also, that the houses were being used by criminals to waylay people and commit crimes.
Which is why, despite the city’s pleas and threats, they are hell-bent on continuing to occupy the property as they claimed that they have nowhere else to go.
One of the residents, Gondeline Mdluli, 75, invaded the half-finished four-roomed house with her six children. She said she had nowhere to go if the city evicts them.
“I cannot afford to go back to that mud house because it’s the same as sleeping outside the house. There’s no way that we can leave this house. If the government says that I should leave this house, where should I go?” asked Mdluli.
Another occupant Richard Ntuli, 59, said: “The evictions mean that I will have to go back to that single-roomed shack which I will have to share with four other family members.”
Ntuli, who suffered from a stroke, has no intention of moving. “The city did not care about this place. People were killed and raped in this place before we occupied it. The police are even saying that crime has declined since we came here,” Ntuli added.
Another illegal occupant, 81-year-old Beauty Mkhwanazi, has used her grant pension money to furnish, put in a ceiling and paint the house. She said she would not leave.
“If they are removing me, then they must reimburse me the money equivalent to what I used to complete, renovate and furnish the house. I am not going anywhere”.
Gauteng Human Settlements and Urban planning spokesperson Castro Ngobese declined to comment but said: “Your query should be directed to City of Joburg. They will be better placed to respond to it”.
The city declined to comment citing legal implications. Deputy director of communications Neo Goba said the matter was sub judice so it would be premature to comment.
The Sunday Independent