Forum ‘didn’t mean’ threats to Capital City Housing

2019-09-16 15:26

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A member of the Capital City Housing Tenants’ Forum has admitted that threats were made to Capital City Housing employees but said they would have never been carried out.

Themba Nkuna also told the Pietermaritzburg high court on Friday that if the threats had been meant, they would have been executed by now. He was in court to oppose the granting of a temporary interdict sought by Capital City Housing and three of its employees.

However, the interdict was granted.

It is against nine people; Nkuna, Philani Mjwara, Celumusa Dube, Primrose Jiya, Innocent Khumalo, Noxolo Makhaye, Sthandiwe Mthembu, Gugulethu Mthembu and Sabelo Nxela, as well as the Capital City Housing Tenants’ Forum.

They have been prevented from causing any disturbances and disruptions at Capital City Housing offices, from threatening and intimidating staff members and encouraging tenants to stop paying rental. Capital City Housing owns Acacia Park, Signal Hill, Aloe Ridge and the Gardens Road scheme.

The court order follows an incident that happened over a week ago when the housing offices were shut down by the “forum” members and employees were threatened. CEO of the housing NPO, Ivor Caldecott, said in an affidavit that the “forum” emerged recently. It is a group of people who claim to represent the residents of Capital City’s housing developments.

He said their demands have recently escalated. For example, members demand payment for acting as an intermediary between the housing developer and residents. They demand that their members be given maintenance and other work in the housing developments.

It all began in February last year when 261 units at Aloe Ridge were illegally invaded. Caldecott said that according to the press, the invasion was by Themba Mavundla, a member of the MK Vets. The company then got an eviction order but it was never implemented for fear that “violence and bloodshed” would ensue.

Those units should have been generating a combined rental of R850 000 monthly since March last year, said Caldecott.

Mavundla, through a Facebook page, launched a campaign which became the forum, he said, adding its function originally seemed to pertain to maintenance-related complaints. In September last year, the housing developer concluded an agreement with Nkuna, who appeared to be a librarian at UKZN, to act as an intermediary between the company and residents, said Caldecott.

Everything went well initially. In January, it was agreed that Nkuna’s duties would terminate in June. Despite this, he has recently been demanding payment of R3 000 a month “with no agreed deliverables”.

In addition, in June, Mjwara apparently took over as chairperson of the forum from Nkuna, who was last paid in July.

Caldecott said that last month the forum sent an e-mail to Rosanne Rampali, a manager, saying that the maintenance manager, Ravi Reddy, was playing an active role to collapse the forum and was not welcome in Signal Hill and Acacia Park. Caldecott said that on August 26, Nkuna called Rampali and told her he was going to kill Reddy. He also sent her a voice note. Then two days later, Nkuna called Rampali and stated he wanted his money. She declined to pay anything.

Nkuna said if he was not paid, he would shut down the offices, which did happen before, he said. He also said if he was not paid he would instruct residents not to pay rental.

After discussing the matter with other board members, it was agreed that Nkuna would be paid R3 000. On September 1 and 2, he demanded a stipend of R3 000 be paid to the new chairperson, Mjwara. Rampali told him that according to Mjwara’s contract, he gets paid R1 500 a month.

On September 5, forum members came to the offices and caused a complete shutdown of the office and effectively created a hostage situation, said Caldecott.

The case will return to court this Friday when a date for hearing is likely to be set.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  capital city housing

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