‘We’re not going anywhere’ - tenants

2017-10-12 06:01

The Weekly received copies of an agreement signed by residents and Hope Fountain Investments CC in 2011 whereby both parties agreed on the terms and conditions.

The agreements said that tenants agreed to vacate their dwellings on condition the owner of the land gave each family R15 000. Residents said they have been renting on the farm for 20 years, but their houses were falling apart.

“At the time we moved to Riet River there were houses that were built for tenants. They were two-room and three-room houses. However, residents started to renovate the houses and others extended them because the owner was not willing to renovate our dwellings,” added Kistanasamy.

According to an agreement, both parties agreed that residents, who had outstanding water and electricity consumption charges, should pay “the municipality before they vacate the property” before April 1, 2012.

“Some of the residents, who owed the municipality, paid their electricity and water bills. We waited for the owner to give us money before we could move.

“The landlord did not pay us anything. He did not even give us a cent as he promised. We have done a lot of things to these houses. He should have compensated us before giving tenants eviction notices.

“I was one of the residents at the forefront opposing our eviction before I moved to Phoenix. Unfortunately, I relocated to Phoenix after my son got married four years ago. The landlord will not get away with this. Residents are prepared to fight for what is theirs. I will even testify in court and tell the landlord that he never gave us the money.”

Another tenant, Saria Dhanasar (50), said tenants used to pay R550 rent every month to the land owner.

“People have been doing maintenance to their homes. They get together and clean the area themselves. We have been paying for water and electricity and we do not understand why the landlord wants to evict us.”

Dhanasar claims that Govender increased the monthly rent to R1 550.

“He added R1 000 to our rent and when residents complained he said he had not increased it since the commencement of our occupancies.”

In a letter issued by Rental Housing Tribunal in September 27, 2011 the landlord said “the rentals collected in the amount of R550 per month from each tenant [was] not suitable to warrant the maintenance demanded by the tenants”.

Another resident, Rogers Naidoo (40) said: “We heard that the owner is evicting us because he wants to develop this area. If he gives us other houses we can move.”

Pensioner Sonmathy Sewpersadh (70) said she has been living on the farm for 20 years and will find it difficult to find an alternate home because of her age.

The Weekly contacted Govender’s lawyers for a comment. The director of Keowan Y Reddy Inc Attorneys, Keowan Reddy told the Weekly not to say anything against their client.

“As advised we reserve our client’s rights to respond at the appropriate time and in the appropriate forum. I hasten to add that I would caution your office in making any statements against our clients that are unfounded and potentially defamatory. This matter has become litigious and the respective parties should reserve their comments for the appropriate forum.”

However, in the eviction notice sent to the residents, which the Weekly received, Hope Fountain Investments CC claim that residents failed to adhere to the terms of the mediated settlement agreement granted by the Housing Tribunal [in 2011].

“As a consequence of your failure to adhere we hereby give you notice of our client’s intention to immediately cancel your tenancy to the property. Furthermore we hereby give you our client’s notice to vacate the property within one calendar month from date hereof.”

DA PR councillor Chris Langa said his office approached the Human Rights Commission (HRC) in Durban to stop the owner of the farm from evicting tenants.

“We visited tenants last week and formed an area committee. We are taking this matter to the Human Rights Commission because we believe that tenants have been unfairly served with notice.

“We are going to meet with the lawyer for HRC this week so that we can assist the tenants. You cannot evict a person without producing a court interdict.”

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