Man bullied to leave home in house grab drama

2016-03-14 11:24
The red-brick road around the City Hall.

The red-brick road around the City Hall. (Jonathan Burton)

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Pietermaritzburg - A homeless man finds himself squatting in a college storeroom in the city, after he was kicked out of his rental house in Oribi Village, owned by the Department of Human Settlements.

Mandla Chonco (37), who was handed the house in 2002 with a monthly rental of R140, was kicked out unceremoniously in 2008, amid house grab attempts.

The house grabs began when the department started a process of transferring the houses to the municipality.

In an affidavit signed with Loop Street SAPS, Chonco said he had been bullied into leaving his house. He said he had a gun pointed at him and was beaten up as he refused to leave.

In the affidavit, Chonco further alleges that the current occupant, who is named in the affidavit, had said he had bought the house from a department official, who is also named in the affidavit.

“One day he [current occupant] came with a crowd of young boys. They forced me to go to another room in the village, which did not have electricity,” he said.

“I had to pay R500 to have electricity sorted in that room, only to be kicked out again.”

Department spokesperson Mbulelo Baloyi said Chonco’s matter is still under investigation and is almost nearing completion.

“It would not be appropriate to comment on the issue at this stage as it might jeopardise the very same investigation.

“However, we would like to assure you that the named official of the department is not in any way implicated as alleged,” he said.

With the possibility of sleeping in the streets, Chonco said he pleaded with security guards at a college in the city to let him squat in the storeroom. “At that time, it was a temporary thing. But now the storeroom has become my home.”

He said his home was torched in 1987 when he was only eight, during political violence in Snathing. “I lost both my parents there. I was adopted by a social worker. When she passed away, I was adopted by a matron who was working at Edendale hospital.”

When the matron died, Chonco said he “had to fend for himself”.

“I quit school in Grade 10 and I had to work as a cleaner and a gardener in the same school with my peers still continuing with their studies.

“I was retrenched in 2004, and at the moment I work as a gardener and a cleaner for a professor, once a week.

“The pay can only cover my food, and sometimes it does not last me for the whole week. I sometimes have to go to bed on an empty stomach,” he said.


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