Woman locked out of Overport flat, sleeps in cemetery
Durban - AN OVERPORT tenant who was locked out of her flat for not paying her rent, spent the night in a cemetery.
Fazila Hoosen said she had lived in the bachelor flat in Tamasha Court for two years.
She had been working for a security company but it had closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown.
Hoosen, who is single, then generated an income by making and selling pies, rotis and samoosas.
Her family also assisted her with money and she received groceries from a non-profit organisation.
But the business did not do well and her family could no longer assist her financially.
Her rental for September and October was in arrears.
“The rent was R3 600. In August, we were informed that the building, which was managed by Haritha Agency, was bought by Javeed Ally Muhammed. The tenants met with Javeed, who informed us that come November 1, we would receive a new lease and the rent would increase to R5 500.”
She said when she could not pay the rent for September and October she spoke to the new landlord about her financial situation.
"He asked if I could pay at least R2 000 but I explained that I did not have an income and my family could no longer assist me.
“I told him that I did not have money for food and was receiving groceries from a non-profit organisation. I said I would pay the arrears as soon as I got a job.”
Hoosen said last Tuesday the landlord phoned her and asked for the outstanding rent.
“I told him that I was still unable to pay him. He then sent three men to remove me from the property but I refused to go because they did not have an eviction notice. On Thursday, a friend advised me to seek help from the police.”
She said the men and two other people returned on Friday and instructed her to remove her belongings from the flat.
“I refused to go. I locked myself in the flat. After a few hours, they left. I was fed up with being harassed and reported the men to the police.”
She said when she returned home that day, the building’s entrance gate was locked.
“The supervisor refused to let me into the building as he was instructed by the landlord. I had no place to go. As it got darker, I walked to the cemetery on Kenilworth Road, which is near my home, and I slept in the grass. I had not eaten or used the toilet.”
She said the cemetery was the safest place she could think of.
“The next morning, I returned to the building and the supervisor refused to let me in. Another resident helped me contact the police.”
Hoosen said despite the arrival of the police, the supervisor still refused her entry.
“While the gate was opened for other residents on Saturday, I snuck in. I went into the complex and into my flat. The landlord called me and said I must leave. I was locked out again on Monday and stayed with a friend. I have nowhere to go. I am only asking for time.”
Javeed Ally Muhammed said Hoosen was an illegal tenant.
Dr Sayed Iqbal Mohamed, the deputy chairperson of the KZN Rental Housing Tribunal, said the case was a typical example of what had unfolded countrywide.
“There is no relief from the government and parties are ultimately bound by their lease contracts. For the landlord, the legal procedure would be to approach the court to start the eviction process. The tenant can defend the legal action but must have grounds to do so and the Covid-19 lockdown may not provide any assistance to the defaulting tenant.”
He said rights and obligations before the Covid-19 pandemic remained unchanged, except for parties being required to engage to agree on a payment plan.
“It is extremely harsh for both parties who are struggling to survive. Any unlawful action is prohibited in terms of the disaster management regulations that confirms the law as it is.”