'We are powerless': Red Ants evict people living illegally in posh Joburg suburb

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About 50 people have been evicted from a property in Dunkeld
About 50 people have been evicted from a property in Dunkeld
Lwandile Bhengu, News24
  • More than 50 people living in Dunkeld were evicted by the Red Ants on Tuesday. 
  • The group claim they have been living on the property for more than 10 years, but lawyers for the property owner have disputed this claim. 
  • An interim court order granted in March has given the group till 3 May to make submissions as to why the eviction order should not be made permanent.

A street in the posh suburb of Dunkeld was lined with mattresses and scattered belongings as more than 50 people were evicted from a property that they say they had been occupying for more than 10 years.

On Tuesday, eviction and security company Red Ants descended on a property on Bompas Road following a court order issued in March against about 100 people who were illegally squatting on the property. 

Most of the people occupying the property make ends meet by collecting recycled goods. Derrick Mathabatha, who has lived there for more than 10 years, told News24 that they understood that they were there illegally. 

"We know we are here illegally, but the way they removed us is wrong and people’s things went missing. It’s wrong, some people didn’t even go to work. We are powerless. We know we are here illegally, but it doesn’t mean they should remove us like they did. At the very least, they should have given us a chance to pack our things," he said. 

Velemina Cola, whose 14-year-old child was born on the property, says that, between 2003 and 2007, they were paying R100 in rent to a man who later died. 

"How are we going to leave with all these things? Some people have children here, and they live far. This means we will sleep here on the streets. How are we going to go home when they evicted us like dogs," she said. 

Hannes Jordaan, the lawyer representing the property owner, has disputed claims that people have been there for more than 10 years. 

"This property was hijacked to the max over December and January of this year. There were one or two people living here since lockdown last year, but from my understanding and instruction, it boomed over the last year, and people were renting out space on the property. There were illegal activities such as drugs and alcohol," he said. 

The courts have given the group until 3 May to make submissions as to why the eviction order should not be made permanent. 

Meanwhile, City officials and police were on the scene monitoring the situation. News24 understands that the City’s displaced person’s unit will relocate people to shelters.

The City of Johannesburg could not comment on the matter immediately, but their comment will be added once it is received. 

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