Alex residents brace for evictions fight-back

Alex residents brace for evictions fight-back

A daughter and mother allege they are victims of illegal eviction. Photos: Leseho Manala

A group involved in the evictions of ‘illegal’ occupants of RDP houses in Alex, Dudula, have dismissed vigilante allegations.

Residents of Ext 7 in Alex are living in fear of illegal evictions from RDP houses by a group they said pretended to target foreign nationals. The evictions are part of the housing saga in Alexandra dating back many years. It’s alleged the perpetrators are also armed, reports Alex News.

Asking to speak anonymously, a group of women gathered next to belongings of recently evicted families claimed their pleas for intervention were seemingly ignored by the authorities – police, the ward councillor, and the City’s department of housing, who allegedly deflected the matter among each other.

The evictions are also occurring simultaneously with separate investigations by the Joburg City Council, the provincial government, and jointly by the public protector and the Human Rights Commission on alleged corruption in the allocation of the RDP houses.

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Some are said to have been sold or rented by the officials to foreign nationals which disadvantaged those on the housing waiting list. Other beneficiaries are said to be undeserving citizens who rented them out while they stayed in shacks. Sceptics, however, have no hope in the investigations citing the delay in their conclusion.

The group of women opposed the evictions, saying they were heartless acts by the perpetrators, called Dudula, who left the victims out in the cold. They said the victimised families’ children were affected and couldn’t be properly prepared for their next school day. They claimed the perpetrators locked them out with strict instructions that any attempt to reoccupy the houses would be at their own risk.

This the group said, had left the victims at the mercy of caring neighbours who also risked being targeted for their altruism.

“As humans, we are forced to ensure they are fed, bathed and [can exercise] their Constitutional rights to basic livelihoods.”

They claimed the perpetrators have warned that no one undeserving of the houses would be spared. This, despite some victims providing evidence through identity documents, deeds of transfer, and housing allocation documents to prove their legitimacy.

The group is said to dismiss the documents as fake and confiscate others making it difficult for the victims to prove their cases to the gathered residents, who said they were mobilising for fight-back protests starting this weekend.

“We need to unite for our rights as we all are potential victims of the evictions which should, where appropriate, be done by lawful authorities.”

Members of Dudula also dismissed claims that they were acting as vigilantes, they told Alex News.

“The ineptness of government, corrupt allocations of the houses for financial gain by some officials and the beneficiaries’ illegal status in the country prompt us to act this way.

“Some of us and our parents on the housing waiting list have no homes while promised RDP houses are allocated to others,” said Liefie Madigane, who decried the death of his grandmother before she could occupy her long-awaited house.

Dudula members, Liefie Magigane and Sibusiso Kona. Photo: Leseho Manala

Madigane said the group was a movement of community members and worked through committees per ward.

“We assess occupants’ documents to prove their legal standing in the country before we act on them.”

This, he said, included evicting citizens in RDP houses elsewhere and those who did not fit the allocation criteria.

Madigane dismissed allegations of their high-handedness and theft from the victims.

“We approach those we target with relevant information about the house’s rightful owner and where requested, give the illegal occupants notice to seek alternative accommodation pending the eviction.

“We don’t break doors, are not armed and sometimes ask neighbours to keep the evictees’ property while they seek alternative places.”

He said all assets removed were recorded in anticipation of likely contestation.  Madigane said as, in most group activities, there could be ill-discipline.

“We advise witnesses of such conduct to inform us so that we can investigate and take corrective action.”

He urged those targeted to avoid their own misery by keeping proper and legitimate proof of their legal status for comparison with the group’s information.

“They should also be willing to be subjected to verification by appropriate authorities.”

He said many of them disappeared when asked to present themselves, fearing exposure of their status.

“We resist attempted bribes by many as that could defeat the cause for which we were formed.”

He added that “illegal” occupants with spouses who are citizens were spared if the ownership of the house was changed to that of the citizen.

Madigane also claimed that disgruntled evictees feared reporting to the police to avoid exposure that could lead to the loss of social security benefits and freezing of their bank accounts. His colleague Sibusiso Kona advised those affected to regularise their status or rent homes.

“RDP houses are only meant for citizens.”

He said the residents have asked them to form street committees to enable the two to work together. He scoffed at those turning to the police and the courts for recourse saying it was futile as they too would want proof of rightful occupation and citizenship.  This said as some groups of people were in and out of court for their reported evictions.

Residents worry that some among them who were allocated the houses after the evictions heightened tensions among erstwhile friendly neighbours.

“If we remain divided, we will be left to fight each other resulting from an initial illegal act by the perpetrators.”

Meanwhile, the evicted families were said to be scrambling to secure their items after the perpetrators allegedly threatened to take them to the dump. This after other belongings were allegedly stolen or disappeared during the evictions.

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