More than 200 families evicted from River View

2013-11-19 00:00

A HOUSING development in Cato Manor will be a no-go zone from today after violent clashes between police and residents.

More than 200 families who had lived in the 300-unit River View social housing estate were evicted yesterday.

Before they left they clashed with riot police — one woman was badly burnt when police used a water cannon to clear burning tyres.

Nokuthula Ngubo said she did not know how she had been burnt. She was admitted to a local hospital.

In February, the Durban high court granted an eviction order in favour of the developer, not-for-profit Sohco (Social Housing Company).

The tenants appealed but this was denied by the Constitutional Court in August.

The developers say they are owed R22,3 million in unpaid rent over three years.

Yesterday, angry tenants confronted police, who fired teargas to disperse them.

Ward 29 councillor Bhekisisa Mngadi refused to address the tenants.

“What do I tell them? Human Settlements must come and address this issue. The concern is that some people will be left on the road side with nowhere to go. The court order must be executed, but what plan do we have in place for these people. They [tenants] can’t be thrown onto the street like dogs,” said Mngadi.

Human Settlements legal adviser Linda Zama arrived later to address and calm the tenants.

She appealed to everyone to go to their respective units to allow the eviction process to run smoothly.

“We know this is a sad situation but the court order has to be effected. We met two times before appealing to you to move out — you haven’t been paying rent for three years,” said Zama to the silent crowd.

She said the department will make a plan for the disabled, two child-headed units and the indigent.

“We can’t rent for the rest of our lives. This developer has a similar project in East London where tenants rent to buy. Why not us,” fumed resident Noluthando Goniwe.

Human Settlements spokesperson Mbulelo Baloyi said the units were meant for people earning between R3 500 and R7 500, and that the units were for rental only. “Those in this bracket don’t qualify for RDP houses and at the same time they don’t qualify for bonds. Once the tenants’ salaries increase beyond this bracket then they must move out, and allow those who are in this bracket to occupy the units. They are not for sale,” he said.

In a statement, Sohco’s board said: “It’s deeply regrettable that we were left with no alternative, if we were to protect our investment and continue to provide the kind of quality, reasonably priced rental housing so badly needed in our country today”.

By yesterday afternoon provincial police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said the police were still on the scene to monitor the situation.

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