Poor residents of Rammolutsi (Free State) resist evictions by Municipality - 4 arrested this morning

12th March 2008

Wednesday 12 March 2008 by Ahmed

Yesterday residents of Freedom Park Square (Rammolutsi) near the small farming town of Viljoenskroon (Northern Free State) faced evictions by Moqhaka Municipality. Three men and one woman, (Bramage Sekete, Martha Nthuthle, Musa Makwele and Unyaka Ntombeni) were arrested for resisting the evictions and will appear before the local magistrate on 19 March 2008.

Residents were officially given the land on the 26th of October 2006 by the Mayor of Moqhaka Municipality, Mantebo Mokgosi. Soon after however, the community were surprised to find out that the land had been leased back to the previous farm-owner, Mr. Roux, for a period of five years, evidently for “agricultural purposes”. Residents then decided to occupy the land on the 26th September 2007 after a community meeting, attended by the Mayor.

Late in 2007, the High Court ruled in favor of the Municipality, which had brought an application seeking to legalise evictions. Yesterday, despite community resistance, a municipal tractor was used to destroy and demolish the shacks which residents had been living in. The four comrades who were subsequently arrested and locked-up in police cells, had earlier tried to negotiate with the police. This morning, the four made their first appearance in court, were denied bail, and informed that their case will be heard on Wednesday 19th March.

The CAWP, which has consistently supported residents of Rammolutsi in their ongoing struggles for clean and accessible water from the Moqhaka Municipality, is now supporting the community’s struggle for decent housing and the right not to be evicted from their homes. CAWP unreservedly condemns the Municipality’s unwarranted and inhumane actions in destroying the homes, and evicting, poor residents. The poor should not be punished for government’s failure to provide land and houses. The actions in Rammolutsi are part of a national crisis in which poor communities across our country (some of the latest examples being communities like Delft & Joe Slovo in Cape Town and Kennedy Road in Durban) are being treated as criminals and deprived of their democratic and human rights. In the face of the unwillingness of the various levels of government to deliver what they have long-promised and to uphold the rights of the poor, resistance will continue.

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