Residents complain of ‘undignified’ removal

2010-04-17 00:00

“OUR legacy has been broken. You can build us houses, but you can’t give us back the memories we made during the past 36 years.”

These are the emotional words of Alan Holmes, a resident of the Rainbow Barracks community in Wentworth, who was given 24 hours notice to vacate his home and move to specially built flats. Holmes has lived in his Tara Road home for 32 years.

He has raised his family there and thought he would live out his last days in his humble home. However, a week ago the eThekwini council gave them notice to vacate their homes and move into flats in Lansdowne Road.

New homes were built for the 100 families, most of whom have lived there for 36 years, after the community complained that the fumes from the nearby Engen Refinery were detrimental to their health. Local government then set aside R35 million, while Engen contributed another R15 million towards the project.

Holmes said the community is seething with the council, and feel that they were not treated with dignity.

“The trucks lined up the next day to collect our things. This was my home. I was just asked to pack and leave my home. My heart was sore because I had lived here for so long,” he said.

All the houses were demolished within two hours.

Holmes said that moving into the new flats was difficult as they are smaller than the barracks houses, and have many building defects.

“Some of my furniture did not fit into the flat. Another problem is that some families are huge and cannot be accommodated in the flats. This means that some families have to split up and that is very sad,” he said.


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