The departments of Human Settlements, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, in conjunction with the City of Johannesburg, announced on Thursday that they will be providing shelter for the evictees of Alexandra Township.
The residents of this area of Alex, as the township is affectionately known, were forcibly evicted from two factories on Wednesday. The premises are stands 200 to stands 203 and are between First Avenue and Awkright Avenue. According the majority of the residents of this informal settlement, they had lived in this area for the past ten years until the eviction. They intimated that they were initially paying rent to the owner of the premises based on their original agreement. While they admit to stopping the payment of rent, they are quick to explain that this was as a result that their landlord had reneged on his original commitment to provide facilities such as electricity, water and sanitary facilities.
According to sources close to the owner of the premises, the owner sought and obtained a court order from the Randburg Magistrate Court but had tried and failed several times to enforce it. This would probably explain why they resorted to using the notorious Red Ants. According to reports, the owners called in the Red Ants to evict the settlers. Police were called in to ensure that the situation did not turn nasty. This was carried out when most of the inhabitants were at work. Most of them were advised by neighbours by phone about the evictions. Their property was found strewn all over the street to the extent that the two streets had to be cordoned off from traffic. When they arrived back from work, the tenants found that a lot of their possessions were missing, with some claiming that they had lost their life savings.
Responding to the evictions, the Gauteng MEC for Human Settlement, Jacob Mamabolo said that his department intended to challenge the eviction. He added that he had instructed the departmemt’s lawyers to scrutinize the eviction order with a view to finding any loopholes in it and how this could be used to the advantage of the people. In addition, he said that there was little clarity on the ownership of the factory and this indicated that there was something that was not right in the whole furore.
On the other hand, the Human Settlement, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs announced on Thursday that they would be providing accommodation for these evictees especially in the light of the prevailing harsh weather conditions. According to Mamabolo, the evictees would be moved to Marlboro Emergency Centre and the community hall. He added that the Marlboro Emergency Centre had twenty five rooms which would be used to house women, children and persons with disabilities. The remaining people would be housed in the community hall. It was further established that the department had contracted a service provider to build temporary structures to house these people.