Johannesburg Inner City Anti Eviction Campaign march, Saturday 14 December
Thursday 12 December 2002 by APF
On the morning of 20 November, residents of Armadale Place were roughly awakened by the ’red-ants’, the sheriff’s demolition and furniture removal mob in cases of forced removals that the government insists on calling more respectably ’evictions’. Doors were banged shortly before being smashed open and residents were given less than five minutes to get dressed and out of their flats. The residents were completely helpless as they faced gun barrels during this operation. They tried to protest but the police arrived to subdue them with threats of violence. They were either ignored or beaten when they asked for more time as most did not get enough time to get properly or decently dressed or gather their essentials under such short and final notice.
The discarded residents were dumped on the pavement and for the five nights before refuge was found at the B.G. Alexander shelter in Hillbrow, they were taunted by the Wozani Security who carted away what valuables they could carry from the building. No alternative accommodation was arranged by the city council, and no doubt was left intact that Apartheid-style forced removals continue to define what the authorities mean by a ’world-class city’. For the next two months, twenty other buildings are set to follow Armadale Place and thousands of people are to be displaced. Jeanwell and Milton Courts, at 63 Nugget street and 97 Pritchard street respectively, are already in the council’s sights and residents at these buildings have been given only some reprieve through legal contests waged by the Wits Law Clinic.
This offensive against inner city residents is part of a broader campaign to bleach away the poor. Landlords that have neglected their properties are being coaxed back into the city with lures of profitability - held in no way responsible for the arrears they have forced on the city except for the business plans these slumlords are to present to the council. While the city authorities cushion the landing for property developers and businesses, the unsightly and unviable poor are being squeezed out. Rents arbitrarily high, water and electricity supplies haphazard at best, danger and insecurity an everyday reality, and the environment simply unhealthy, the eviction orders contrarily declare the residents are to blame.
Neither should the Johannesburg Metropolitan Council pretend its world-class city includes all the city’s workers. The poors’ presence in the inner city has been made criminally liable. Hawkers are being targeted, their goods and only means of survival confiscated by the Johannesburg Metro police who troop about town to also issue fines as high as R500 to people least able to afford it. The street patrols and road blocks set up by the police also disguise a strong xenophobic drive. Immigrants (and dark complexioned South Africans) are common targets of the police’s malice because they are vulnerable.
The Inner City Anti Eviction Campaign will be marching against the injustices inflicted on the poor. Johannesburg belongs to everyone who lives in the city!
The march against eviction begins: on Saturday, 14 December morning at 09h00 at Alec Gorshel Park in Berea (on Joel Road near Barnato Park School)
...and will proceed to the Department of Housing, 37 Sauer Street to submit demands to the MEC for housing, Paul Mashatile.
For more details of this action by the Johannesburg Anti Eviction Campaign, call Busisiwe on 082 546-0482, or Claire on 082 332-9874.
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