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Family of 10 sleep in community hall after ‘unlawful lockdown eviction’

Reprinted from TimesLive, by Shonisani Tshikalange – 2021-07-14

unlawful lockdown eviction

Elias Mtolo lived in a car with his wife before the family sought shelter in a community hall. Image: Supplied

A family of 10 faces imminent eviction as they squat at a hall in Vanderbijlpark, south of Johannesburg, after being evicted during level 4 of the lockdown.

Elias Mtolo and his wife Maheneng spent three days sleeping in an old car while their eight children were squashed into a small shack, after the house they shared on a plot was demolished by his employer, who is now nowhere to be found.

A court ruled at the weekend that they should not have been evicted.

Mtolo and his family sought shelter at the community hall on Friday.

“I was sleeping in a car with my wife while my children were sleeping in the small shack that I put up with the small material that was left from what was demolished,” he said.

The 45-year-old said he started working for his employer in March 2000.

“I was taking care of his cows and sheep on his farm. In 2010 he told me that he is no longer going to use the farm, then he moved me with my family to Vanderbijlpark on his property.”

Mtolo said on June 16, his employer arrived with policemen to tell him that all tenants, except him, must be off the property because it had been sold.

“But they told me that I was excluded and that I will move to his new property temporarily until he finds me my own permanent house,” he said.

He said on June 24 police returned, telling him to move off the property.

“I was surprised by the policemen, who came back to threaten me. On July 6, early in the morning, he came with [vehicles to demolish the house and] he told me that I must move out my furniture and he will break the house down. I moved my furniture out, then he ran away and never came back.”

Elias Mtolo said he hasn’t received any communication from his former employer since they were evicted.

Elias Mtolo said he hasn’t received any communication from his former employer since they were evicted.
Image: Supplied

Mtolo’s youngest child is not yet two, his oldest is 23.

“My children are not fine, I am also not fine. We are heartbroken. My wife is also heartbroken. Our spirits are down.

“The two who are doing matric couldn’t read properly after what happened. They could not focus,” he said.

An attorney at Marweshe Attorneys Inc, Tony Mathe, working with his colleague Mabu Marweshe, made an urgent application in the Johannesburg high court on Friday evening, with the matter heard on Saturday.

The application — which sought to, among other things, have the eviction and demolition of the property declared illegal and unconstitutional and have the employer provide temporary shelter or accommodation to the family immediately — was granted by the court.

Mtolo, however, said he had not yet heard from his former employer.

Mathe said the conduct violated level 4 regulations, which were clear that no evictions may take place during this period.

“This also is a direct violation of human rights and the constitution of SA, which is clear that everyone has inherent dignity and the right to have their dignity respected and protected. Further violation is [of] the Children’s Act, which was formulated to protect the rights of the children,” he said.

“The man has not contacted us, which means he is not willing to comply with the court order. We are getting ready to go back to court urgently, as our clients are still in a community hall facing imminent eviction,” he said.

Attempts to contact Mtolo’s former employer were unsuccessful.

For further information

This eviction is a clear breach of regulations under the Disaster Management Act. SD Law is a law firm in Cape Town and Johannesburg with specialist eviction lawyers. If you need advice on lease agreements, evictions, or other aspects of landlord-tenant relations, contact Cape Town attorney Simon Dippenaar on 086 099 5146 or email

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