Groups backing residents in housing fight

2012-11-16 21:10
SAHRC (Picture: Sapa)

SAHRC (Picture: Sapa)

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Johannesburg - The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said on Friday that it had met Lenasia residents to discuss the recent demolitions of houses there.

The SA Communist Party, the Congress of the SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) joined the talks, the SAHRC said.

They had pledged to support residents in their battle against the Gauteng housing department.

Cosatu said it would join the court proceedings as an amicus curiae (friend of the court).

SAHRC spokesperson Isaac Mangena said they all needed to find alternative housing for those who were being displaced.

"[We need] temporary accommodation for women and children, most of whom are currently writing final exams," said Mangena.

On Wednesday, the department of housing said it would not provide alternative shelter as it believed no one had been directly affected by the demolitions.

"All the properties which were demolished were unoccupied," said Gauteng Housing MEC Ntombi Mekgwe.

She said the demolitions had been carried out as humanely as possible.

The SAHRC, Cosatu, the SACP and Sanco stakeholders called for further investigation of the demolitions.

"The public protector has a role to play in a broader investigation," said Mangena.

The SAHRC has also reportedly written to Mekgwe, asking her to stop the evictions and demolitions.

"[She should] allow the investigations to continue and for the possibility to engage an independent mediator to help us reach an amicable solution in this matter."

SAHRC chairperson advocate Lawrence Mushwana said it was pleased with the way in which the residents were handling the matter.

The housing department destroyed about 50 houses last Thursday and Friday. It said the houses were built on land meant for government housing.

The plots were apparently fraudulently sold for amounts ranging from R2 500 to R95 000. The buyers were given forged deeds of sale with the department's logo.

The SAHRC obtained a court interdict to stop the demolitions.

The case is scheduled to continue in the High Court in Johannesburg next Friday.

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