Anger over Durban evictions

2012-01-19 07:14

Hloniphile Shabalala from Cato Crest Informal Settlement near Durban suspected something was amiss when her landlord refunded her rent last week.

“All of a sudden he started taking the house apart without saying anything. I was told by the committee that has been advocating for the demolishing of homes that I would get hurt if I refused to go. I have had to send my children to my parents,” she said yesterday as eThekwini mayor James Nxumalo visited the area because of anger over evictions.

Earlier, the Democratic Alliance complained about the situation in Cato Crest, claiming that no court order had been granted for the evictions and that temporary accommodation had not been provided for the occupants of the 50 homes which had been demolished in the area recently.

Sibusiso Gumede, chairperson for Human Settlement and Infrastructure in the eThekwini council believes the situation is being politicised.

According to Gumede, the municipality has a programme which aims to fast track the issuing of houses.

He says the idea to demolish houses was volunteered by the residents of this area during a meeting in December with city officials.

This was brought on by the fact that nine other homes in the vicinity were demolished and seven houses were built for these families by the municipality.

“Obviously, in the earlier case, there were fewer homes involved. It appears that no problems arose from those demolitions. People here must have interpreted that as saying: ‘If you demolish, you get a quicker response and get a house built’. But the dynamics are such that in this case, there is the element of tenants. So the landowners volunteered to demolish, basically saying that those tenants must see to themselves. Those are the people who are now revolting.”

Gumede questioned the tenants’ failure to voice these concerns in the December meeting.

“We were just flooded by papers and radio stations wanting to know what was going on,” said Gumede.

However, Zoleka Kotelani, a community member, who is also part of DA caucus in the area advocating for the rights of the affected families, said the community knew nothing about the meeting in December.

“We are not crazy. We would be here in this heat fighting if we had agreed to the evictions. That could not been the voice of the community. Where are all these people supposed to go?”

Shabalala said she was saddened by the fact that when government needed their help and their votes, they were considered to be part of the community.

But when it came to development, they were sidelined.

The parties are expected to meet in 18 days’ time to try and resolve the issue.

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