Guns drawn at Aloe Ridge

2018-10-11 15:45
Aloe Ridge housing complex.

Aloe Ridge housing complex.

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Pietermaritzburg's flagship rental housing complex — Aloe Ridge, which has been hijacked by MK war veterans, has now been invaded by a new gang of heavily armed men demanding to be awarded the contract to guard the premises. 

The invaders, who witnesses claim arrived at the complex armed with rifles and shotguns, drove out the guards of the security company contracted to the non-profit organisation that owns the property, Capital City Housing, and were by late Wednesday afternoon still at the complex.

When The Witness arrived, a group of men, who refused to be identified or photographed, had taken over access control duties at the western part of the 950-unit complex — the biggest of its kind in the country and located in Westgate.

“No, no, we are not thugs, we are local residents, who were promised business opportunities such cleaning, maintenance and security during the construction of the complex.

“But what we have been seeing is that people from outside are being given all the jobs while we are being sidelined,” one of the men said.

The invasion is the latest following the war veterans’ hijacking of more than 300 flats at the complex in February.

At the time of the invasion, the war vets had claimed that they had decided to hijack the units after the government had reneged on its promise to provide the former soldiers with housing.

The R353 million housing project launched in 2014 was officially opened by former president Jacob Zuma in April last year.

Sixty percent of the R353 million of the private/public project came from a government housing grant while the balance was raised through loans.

The invasion by the war vets, who are currently renting out the hijacked units and pocketing the money, has so far resulted in Capital City Housing defaulting on mortgage repayments.

Accompanied by intimidation and force, the latest invasion happens at a time when government is battling to deal with mafia-style groups who have been holding government officials hostage, intimidating people working on government projects and threatening those they deem to be stumbling blocks to lucrative government tenders.

Basil Carey, the director of KTT Security that currently has a contract with Capital City Housing to guard the complex — which is part of initiatives to provide affordable rental accommodation to low income groups — has expressed concern about the invasion.

“I’m currently out of the province but was briefed about the matter. We have our staff at the complex and obviously we will be concerned if something like this happens,” he said.

Residents, who were trapped inside the complex during Wednesday’s standoff between KTT Security guards and the armed invaders, said they are concerned about their safety.

“We are concerned about the fact that this whole thing happens when the war vets, who used force to take over some units, are still in the complex.

“Up to today no proper identification had been carried out on the people who have moved into the occupied units.

“We don’t know whether the people living in the hijacked flats are law-abiding citizens or just criminals using the complex as a hideout,” a resident said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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