Black First Land First (BLF) has denied reports that its members who occupied a house in Brooklyn, Pretoria, had left it in a terrible condition after a lawyer went to court to get the group evicted.
Sunday newspaper Rapport reported that the sheriff of the court removed the occupiers on Friday after an eviction order was issued by the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.
The party - which managed to garner a mere 0.11% of votes nationally on the May 8 general elections - suffered another blow last week when it was forced to give up on a court fight for its supporters who occupied the house in the posh Pretoria suburb of Brooklyn, Times Select reported.
Times Select had reportedly seen a letter written by BLF leader Andile Mngxitama to attorney Mike Potgieter, the executor of the deceased estate of Willem and Dorothea Serfontein – the owners of the property at the centre of the legal battle.
"We confirm having arranged for the applicant’s attorney (Potgieter) to inform the court ... that the respondent [BLF and the group of illegal occupiers] are hereby withdrawing from this case as they were unable to secure legal representation due to the lack of funds," the letter reads.
"The respondents ask that the court make no order as to costs (each party to pay its own costs) and the respondents do not have funds to attend the court."
The Citizen reported about the occupation of the house in August last year.
House stood empty for years
The group, which claim to be students, moved into the unoccupied thatched-roof house [in July 2018], The Citizen reported.
When confronted, they reportedly said they could not afford accommodation and called their "lawyer", who turned out to be Mngxitama, who is not an attorney.
According to The Citizen, Potgieter launched an urgent application to have the students evicted, saying they illegally gained access to the property and were trespassing. Judge Nelisa Mali, however, ruled that the application was not urgent and struck it off the roll.
The main house on the property had reportedly been standing empty for years after the owners died, leaving the property to their sons, who both live abroad.
On Thursday, Judge A.J. Brand ruled that Amanda Mjindi, Dlozi Mthetwa and others living at 235 Brooks Street in Brooklyn must leave the property and carry the costs of the eviction order, Rapport reported.
'They moved in to destroy the house'
Rapport quoted Renier de Meyer of Interactive Security, who said the eviction was carried out without incident.
He told that publication that it appeared that the BLF members had moved into the house, alleggedly causing damages estimated at R500 000.
Back in August last year, Times Select reported that, when its reporter visited the house, the neighbours, who did not want to be named, expressed concern about the situation and that their sympathy levels with the group of occupiers were low.
"I am worried about the value of my property going down," one neighbour reportedly said.
According to Rapport, the house had been stripped of electrical wiring and light fittings, the interior of the house had been severely neglected, toilets had been used but not flushed and litter was lying around everywhere. The garden and pool were also reportedly in a state of severe disrepair.
BLF President Andile Mngxitama said in a letter to News24 on Wednesday that the house was left derelict for three years, prior to BLF members occupying the property. He added that the group had found the house without wiring and light fittings. Mngxitama also said that the pool was in a worse condition prior to the group moving onto the property.Photo of the pool at the house in Brooklyn, Pretoria provided to the court by the BLF (Supplied)
*This article has been updated to reflect BLF's responses to the claims