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Why evictions still happen

Jack Bloom
22 July 2013

Jack Bloom on the Newton evictions, and the difficulty of unravelling the truth behind them

WHY EVICTIONS STILL HAPPEN

Twice this winter I have been called on to assist people evicted from their homes in inner city Johannesburg.

In the first case, 300 people were evicted from a building after losing a court case.

They claimed that they had offered to buy the building from the council, but it was sold for a much lower amount to new owners who then evicted them.

They alleged that corrupt officials colluded to sell the building to the present owner.

It was sad to see people with their furniture on the pavement trying to sleep on a cold night. Some of them are still there after two months.

In a more recent case I saw the eviction of about 2000 people from the Newtown Urban Village. The feared Red Ants, with their helmets and red overalls, went from flat to flat in this housing complex near the Oriental Plaza. There was furniture everywhere, with some of it getting lost or stolen.

The saddest evictee was Ms Lucia Mdluli, who looks after her 17-year-old brain-damaged son, Lindokuhle. In her desperation she prayed "God, if you want to take him, take him, because he has suffered. I've done my best for him."

According to Mdluli, he was brain-damaged thirteen years ago due to negligence at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital when he was admitted with burn wounds.

In the apartheid days there were notorious evictions during the winter. So why is this still happening today?

It is really difficult unravelling the truth behind these evictions. The Newtown flats are owned by the non-profit Johannesburg Housing Company (JHC) which bought them at a public auction in 2009.

This was after the Newtown Housing Cooperative was liquidated after defaulting on payments. According to JHC, the flats needed to be renovated, and they offered alternative accommodation while this was taking place.

The renovation program was meant to start on 1 May 2010, but residents delayed matters by going to court.

There were three factions amongst the residents, each with different agendas. They funded three different sets of attorneys, exhausting every legal avenue until the final eviction order was granted.

JHC allege that the complex was run by illegal hijackers of the building who forcibly collected "rental" and evicted occupiers without court orders if they failed to pay. JHC's legal costs were more than R1.5 million, so the costs for the opposing attorneys must have been similarly high.

It seems that there were unscrupulous people making enough money out of illegal rents to fund expensive lawyers. We must trust our courts, and they have ruled that this is a legal eviction. But there are also unfortunate people like Ms Mdluli, dedicated to her helpless son.

JHC insist that they offered her alternative accommodation, and she has now been allowed to move back into the building.

Johannesburg's inner city is notorious for "bad" buildings hijacked by ruthless people who make money out of terrorised residents.

It would really help if our police enforced the law rigorously at all times to stop these criminals early in their tracks.

Jack Bloom MPL, is DA Leader in the Gauteng Legislature. This article first appeared in The Citizen.

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Property Rights
This is what happens when property rights are undermined and eroded. This is official government policy. It is also the policy of the DA - Jack you reap what you sow.

by Razor on July 23 2013, 08:37
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Evictions
Razor, I cannot agree with you more.

The ANC have and still are undermining property rights as a hidden agenda to "punish" whites for allegedly "stealing" the land from the blacks.

How often do we read in these very same columns how some . .more

by James Bell on July 23 2013, 15:58
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Property owners and Provincial executive must act with a certain standard of care.
>>"Johannesburg's inner city is notorious for "bad" buildings hijacked by ruthless people who make money out of terrorised residents."

Why did the owners allow it and why did they neglect to duly exercise their constitutional . .more

by Barry Saayman on July 23 2013, 20:00
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Why evictions still happen
Police enforce the law rigorously?, they are more than likely in on the racket

by Bricon on July 28 2013, 11:11
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