Evicted illegal dwellers going back to court
Families who have illegally occupied 184 RDP houses in the new settlement of East Bank in East London are adamant that they will not move. This is despite an emotional removal that was carried out by the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality on Thursday. The illegal dwellers simply moved back in at night time on the same day.
In a meeting held between this community and their ward councillor, Nikiwe Roseline Vitbooi on Friday, community leader Gerald Pastor said the meeting was fruitless and another one has been scheduled for today (Tuesday). “We are disappointed and we will instruct our lawyers to appeal to the high court judgement and get an urgent interdict. We cannot be thrown out on the streets without a care. People are sleeping out on the streets with children, we have reached boiling point,” he added.
Across the road from East Bank, 300 families were also forcefully removed in Fynbos with violence erupting between private security, the police and community members. Community members were shot at with rubber bullets and tear-gassed.
Samkelo Ngwenya, spokesperson for the Buffalo City Municipality Metro said they obtained a court order to remove families that had illegally occupied houses that are earmarked for rightful beneficiaries in a process that began in 2018, days after the houses were illegally occupied. The evicted families claim that they have been living in these houses for a year because the ‘said beneficiaries’ applied for housing about 10 years later than them, and therefore they have jumped them on the list. The rightful beneficiaries are currently trying to move into their houses, some of which have not yet been completed and others have been vandalised.
The evicted residents claim that they have the right to reside in these RDP houses because they paid their Ward Councillor Vitbooi amounts ranging from R5 000 to R40 000 to become rightful owners. Vitbooi vehemently denies this and is demanding that all those who paid her must bring proof. She lashed out at the residents for using the issue of widespread corruption in housing allocation as a scapegoat to justify their illegal dwelling. According to Ngwenya, the City is faced with a backlog in the provision of houses to qualifying residents, and is chasing a moving target as people migrate and settle in the City looking for better opportunities.“The lawful process is that when the building of houses is completed take occupation. However, in Fynbos this could not happen due to illegal occupation,” he explained.
The unlawful Fynbos and East Bank occupants were individually advised to vacate the houses and were given reasonable notices to do so. Newspaper adverts as well radio communication informing the public and illegal occupiers of the eviction court order was done and letters to the illegal occupiers were delivered.
“It is important that we uphold the law and abide by the constitution of the Republic as part of our democracy,” he concluded.