Anger at ‘surprise’ eviction

2015-04-09 00:00

AFTER a 10-year battle, the Msunduzi Municipality has finally moved on 10 families who refused to vacate premises earmarked to be torn down and turned into parking for the Office of the Premier.

The families were evicted, with their belongings scattered across the street, after authorities forced them out their homes yesterday.

Swearing and flinging their arms at police and municipal security officers, residents from the Fortuna Courts block of flats in Terry Street, near the Premier’s Office, sorted through heaps of clothes, furniture, food and other belongings that were scattered across the street after ­authorities came knocking on their doors yesterday morning.

According to residents, the Msunduzi Municipality issued a notice of eviction in 2005, asking them to vacate the ­municipality-owned premises.

Residents claimed they were promised alternative accommodation, but say nothing materialised and the notice of eviction was forgotten.

However, Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Nqobile Madonda said the ­residents were given ample time to ­respond to or oppose the application for eviction.

Madonda said a high court application in terms of the Prevention of Illegal Eviction (PIE) Act was brought in January 2014. The respondents, including the Fortuna Court residents, were given time to oppose the application, and some did.

In November last year, the high court gave an order that the evictions could start immediately. Residents who opposed it were granted a further final opportunity by the court to make ­representations specifically relating to alternative accommodation.

“So if they did not bring it [make ­representations], the court order would have been made final on January 16, which had the effect then that the ­remainder of the occupants could be evicted by April 1,” Madonda said.

“So council has a court order and we are implementing that court order by the sheriff of the high court with the ­assistance of the SAPS.

“They [the ­residents] had ample opportunity and time to respond to our application … We will bring in the Msunduzi Housing ­Association to assist the residents in making applications for new homes.”

It is thought that the eviction is ­intended to pave the way for the building to be demolished, with the flats to be ­replaced with an additional parking facility for the Office of the Premier. However, this could not be confirmed, with the premier’s spokesperson, Thami Ngwenya, diverting queries to the municipality.

Residents said police and municipal security came knocking on their doors, demanding they leave their homes before 4 pm yesterday. Many have been living there for up to 20 years.

One resident, Joyce Sivnath, said they did not receive any form of notification that an eviction would take place ­yesterday and were caught by surprise.

“After we refused to leave, they started taking out our belongings and throwing them on the streets without our ­permission,” Sivnath said.

Another resident, Sandile Shezi, said his wife and his three-month-old baby would sleep on the streets last night.

“They have not said anything about getting us homes. Where are we supposed to go and how are we supposed to get our stuff there?” Shezi asked.

Many of the residents took to the streets, marching to the high court to get answers for what they described as an ­“illegal eviction”.

However, others who were working during the day, were unaware that they would not have a home when they ­returned.

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