MK veterans strike again

2019-07-05 13:54
Foto ter illustrasie....FOTO: ANDRE DAMONS

Foto ter illustrasie....FOTO: ANDRE DAMONS (file)

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Capital City Housing employees called the police yesterday saying they were being held hostage by four Mkhonto weSizwe war veterans.

The company owns the flagship low-income Aloe Ridge housing complex where the war veterans, who have accused the government of reneging on its promise to build houses for them, hijacked 261 units last year.

Despite there being no electricity at the hijacked flats, the veterans, who are still in occupation, managed to connect the electricity. Some were alleged to be renting out the flats.

When The Witness arrived at the Capital City Housing offices on Peter Kerchhoff Street at around noon yesterday, heavily armed police officers, including a hostage negotiator, were at the scene.

The staff members had abandoned their work stations and were gathered outside. “We won’t go back inside until those men leave. We can’t carry on working while fearing for our safety,” said an employee who refused to be named for fear of victimisation.

Another employee, who also asked not to be named, said the war veterans had locked the gate to their parking lot with a chain and padlock to ensure that no one left the premises.

“We don’t know which entrance they used to come into the building because they did not use the front door. We just saw them inside the building, and they demanded to speak to management.

“They locked the doors and said ‘nobody is leaving and nobody is coming in’. The doors were only opened when the police arrived,” said an employee.

The police were seen leaving the building a few minutes after their arrival. One officer was heard muttering, “What a waste of our time” whilst climbing into his car.

A police source told The Witness that the Capital City Housing’s management had reassured them that no one was held hostage and that the war veterans were not armed.

Menzi Mkhize, Mkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association’s (MKMVA) regional secretary, said he was one of the four men who were at the Capital City Housing offices yesterday. “No one was held hostage. We were not armed, and we did not threaten anyone,” he said.

Mkhize admitted that they did lock the gate to the parking lot.

“We locked the gate because in the past we noticed that some people have the habit of running away from negotiations. We didn’t terrorise any employees, all we did was ask to speak to the management,” said Mkhize.

He said they were also very shocked when the police barged into the board room while they were having a “pleasant” meeting with the company’s CEO, Ivor Caldecott.

Mkhize said they had visited the Capital City Housing offices yesterday to follow up on a request they had made to the company’s management that the MK war veterans who are currently illegally occupying units at Aloe Ridge be given maintenance jobs at the complex.

He said Caldecott said he still needed to consult with the company’s board members and promised to revert back to them soon.

Caldecott told The Witness that he was in another meeting out of the office when he received a call that four MKMVA members wished to see him urgently at the office.

“The MKMVA are looking to be fairly included in more work opportunities that may arise at our sites. We discussed various opportunities and after about one hour the veterans left the site.

“Work continued as normal. The men were not armed and did not appear violent,” said Caldecott.

Earlier this week, Caldecott told The Witness that because of the veteran’s illegal occupation at Aloe Ridge, their organisation continues to default on its loan with the National Housing Finance Corporation and that the site is at risk of mortgage default proceedings should there be no solution to the crisis in the near future.

In the space of a month, there have been five incidents involving the war veterans.

Last month, about 60 war veterans carried out a sit-in at the ANC offices on Hoosen Haffejee Street demanding to be addressed by KwaZulu-Natal’s ANC chairperson, Sihle Zikalala.

Last week, The Witness reported that the veterans had taken occupation of several houses in the city centre and tried to take over a shelter for abandoned children in Havelock Road.

On Monday morning five men, who claimed to be MK veterans, allegedly harassed a 62-year-old woman at her home in Hoosen Haffejee Street and threatened to take her house if she refused to show them her title deed.

On Monday afternoon, 104-year-old Samson Mshengu had to use a machete to scare away about seven MK veterans who were demanding to see paperwork proving that he was the rightful owner of his Boom Street house. — WR.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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