APF

7000 Kwa-Masiza Hostel residents in Sebokeng live in fear of eviction tomorrow

Sunday 5 January 2003 by APF

7000 Kwa-Masiza Hostel residents in Sebokeng are preparing for the possibility of eviction tomorrow as negotiation with property owners is expected to be met with armed police clearing the way for the hated Red Ants.

The properties, held by private company Vicva Investment Trading Twenty Company Pty. Ltd. (VITCC), are partially owned by three local ANC councillors. The community faced a brutal eviction last September 11th 2002, which, according to residents, is still pending in court.

Ever since the properties were bought by VITCC, purchased from ISCOR under controversial circumstances, the company has been attempting to evict residents. Three local ANC councillors who are owners of VITCC - Thomas Makhasa, Jeff Mkoro and William Molato - are accused of being behind the evictions and trying to profit at the expense of the thousands of poor people for whom Kwa-Masiza has been the only home for years.

Residents’ electricity was cut off three weeks ago, (December 9th), despite the fact that tenants have been complying with recent negotiations. The new landowners have been collecting R75 from unemployed tenants, but it appears that the money is not being forwarded to ESKOM, as all tenants, workers and unemployed, paying or not, have had their electricity cut off since the beginning of December - more than 12 000 people. Apartment units are dark, kettles have stopped singing, and the smell of paraffin fills the lungs of children as families use the highly expensive lethal gas as a last resort to cook food for themselves.

Since the electricity was shut off, property owners have refused to talk to residents. Some have been told that talks with the landlord will happen this Monday (January 6th), however, residents are expecting to be talking to the barrel of a gun. "What we hear now, is that he is going to evict us, we hear there will be soldiers, and policemen to evict us," said Mthobeli Belebawa, a resident of Kwa-Masiza. "He told people working inside here that people must look for accommodation outside of Kwa-Masiza - he told them [his employees] just stay away."

The evictions are further confirmation of the political hypocrisy that has become an integral part of the privatisation of basic needs and services. While the ANC publicly claims to be acting on behalf of the poor, their political representatives at all levels of government are involving themselves in corrupt and secretive privatisation deals that bring personal enrichment at the direct expense of the poor whom they claim to represent.

"I’ve been here since 1998. If they want to evict us, they at least have to give us accommodation. I’ve got two children, a boy and a girl. I have nowhere to go. I don’t know where to go. There is no place," resident Rebecca Radebe said.

In an incredible example of the growing inhumanity on the part of the new ANC hostel landlords, the residents have been living in fear since their September 11 eviction, remembering being shot at by armed police and Wozani Security, who dumped their belongings into the streets without any shelter or protection on one of the coldest days of the year - they watched all their belongings being burned by the Red Ants in an open field next to the hostel.

Our communities deserve better. While the APF continues, alongside residents of Kwa-Masiza, to organise and work against illegitimate and inhumane evictions, more and more communities here in Johannesburg and across the country will continue struggling against the political and socio-economic injustice and opportunism that blights the lives of the majority of South Africans.


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