Notice to South Africans: Please visit sacoronavirus.co.za for up to date information on the COVID-19 outbreak.
Tag

eviction attorney Johannesburg Archives | Eviction Lawyers South Africa

Emalahleni Local Municipality receives two days to reply to SAHRC

By | Eviction news, Evictions

Over 100 houses were demolished, with about 96 residents who currently live in an open area, declared homeless after the eviction operations.

Emalahleni Municipality involved in illegal evictions

The provincial office of the Human Rights Commission, in Mpumalanga, gave Emalahleni Local Municipality two days to respond to an urgent email regarding the “complaints relating to eviction operations without a court order.”

In a letter seen by the WITBANK NEWS, the commission indicated that the assessed complaint, the affected resident’s right to have access to housing, particularly their right not be evicted without a court order enshrined in section 26(3) of the constitution were “prima facie violation.”

“Given the urgency of the matter and the level 3 lockdown COVID-19 regulations on evictions, please let us have your response to the above allegations at your nearest convenience and in any event by no later than 24 June 2020,” the letter reads.

Over 100 houses were demolished, with about 96 residents who currently live in an open area declared homeless after the eviction operations.

Branch leader of the settlement from the South African National Civic Organization (SANCO), Mr Sbusiso Ndlovu said he was pleased by the response of the commission.

“As SANCO leadership from Ward 23, we are pleased by the information from the SARHC to investigate the matter in Empumelelweni. It is high time that people take accountability for their actions, human dignity as enshrined in the constitution has been compromised, people have been greatly exposed to COVID-19 by this whole situation and lastly, we will be happy if the municipality can engage SANCO about the land to be allocated and other matters alike to avoid similar occurrences,” said Ndlovu.

Reprinted from Witbank News – 2020-06-30

Links added by SD Law.

*Simon Dippenaar & Associates, Inc. is a firm of specialist eviction lawyers, based in Cape Town and now operating in Johannesburg and Durban, helping both landlords and tenants with the eviction process. Contact one of our attorneys on 086 099 5146 or sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za if you need advice on the eviction process or want to know the cost of eviction.

Further reading:

Pretoria West families sleep on streets after eviction

By | Eviction news, Eviction notice, Evictions, Homeless

Illegal occupation…illegal eviction. Two wrongs don’t make a right when people are left out in the cold.

Reprinted from the Pretoria News. By Rapula Moatshe – 2020-06-29

ILLEGAL occupants of a block of flats in Pretoria West have been living on the streets since they were evicted from the property last week.     Oupa Mokoena  African News Agency (ANA)
Illegal occupants of a block of flats in Pretoria West have been living on the streets since they were evicted from the property last week. Oupa Mokoena African News Agency (ANA)

Pretoria – About 40 impoverished families in Pretoria West spent the freezing weekend sleeping on the pavements after they were thrown out of a block of flats which they had illegally occupied.

The people were displaced on Wednesday after a property owner unleashed a group of armed security guards to kick them out of his apartments, allegedly without an eviction order.

Tension boiled over again on Saturday as the evictees threatened to forcefully invade the building, which was heavily guarded by the security personnel. The guards, who were armed with batons, riot shields and pepper spray, dared them to enter the premises at their own risk.

Emotions ran high as the two groups exchanged heated words with the evictees telling the guards that they were being used by the owner, who was allegedly a Ugandan national.

They claimed the “foreigner” removed them without a court order and that he didn’t have a title deed for the property.

While the evictees confessed that they had illegally occupied the building, they also justified their action by saying this was meant as retaliation against the owner, who allegedly torched their “house” in the vicinity.

Their leader Jabulani Ngema said: “On June 9 at around 1am our house was torched. The people behind this tried to buy the property for R35 000 and we refused. After torching the house, we decided as community members that we can’t be displaced. We are going to move into his property, which is vacant.”

Ngema said that on June 24 they were evicted from the building by the guards. “We have since been sitting here waiting for either the government or anyone who is from the relevant structure to tell us how we can deal with the situation,” he said.

Yesterday the displaced group was still camping outside the property on Zeilet Street. Their belongings, which included mattresses, blankets and clothes, were among items strewn in the street.

Ngema said they had taken the matter to Lawyers for Human Rights, who agreed “to obtain an interdict against the owner to allow us back into the premises”. He said the house, which was torched, was hijacked by a group of 12 people, including himself.

“It was an abandoned house and used to be a brothel. We engaged some of the community to move into the property. We take properties back not for financial gains but to assist the displaced orphans in South Africa and other persons who need properties in the country,” Ngema said.

Louise du Plessis from Lawyers for Human Rights said it appeared there was a bigger story behind the eviction.

She said the evictees claimed a doctor from Uganda was the mastermind behind the eviction. What was troublesome was that SAPS officers were “very much involved in the illegal eviction”.

“Our plan to go to court is to get these people back into the property and to obtain an interdict against the doctor,” she said.

One evictee, Patience Kukama, said: “We are prepared to fight for our country. The little that is left we will salvage. Foreigners have more rights than what we do.”

The Pretoria News could not trace the property owner.

Links added by SD Law.

*Simon Dippenaar & Associates, Inc. is a firm of specialist eviction lawyers, based in Cape Town and now operating in Johannesburg and Durban, helping both landlords and tenants with the eviction process. Contact one of our attorneys on 086 099 5146 or sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za if you need advice on the eviction process or want to know the cost of eviction.

Further reading:

Hungry or evicted: Life for migrant women in Johannesburg’s ‘dark buildings’

By | Electricity, Eviction news, Evictions

The government declared evictions illegal during lockdown levels 5, 4 and 3. But what happens when the landlord is already operating outside the law? We were sad to read the story of these women in Johannesburg.

Reprinted from Dispatch Live. By Reuters and Kim Harrisberg2020-06-28

During the prolonged Covid-19 lockdown, refugee and migrant women living in Johannesburg are often faced with a choice between being able to feed their families or keep a roof over their heads.

During the prolonged Covid-19 lockdown, refugee and migrant women living in Johannesburg are often faced with a choice between being able to feed their families or keep a roof over their heads.
Image: SANDILE NDLOVE

When Cynthia fled Zimbabwe as a refugee, she dreamed of a safe, clean house in neighbouring South Africa where she could start a new life.

But seven years later she is one of hundreds of single Zimbabwean women living in Johannesburg’s notorious “dark buildings” — crowded but cheap accommodation in derelict properties that were illegally seized by rogue landlords.

Like many of the refugee and migrant women living there, she lost her job as a domestic worker during South Africa’s coronavirus lockdown, forcing her to choose between buying food or paying rent.

“The lockdown has been very painful for these women,” said Ethel Musonza, 50, who founded Zimbabwe Isolated Women in South Africa (ZIWISA), a group that connects the women over WhatsApp for help with food, rent and emotional support.

“Landlords want to evict them if they are unable to pay (rent),” she said, adjusting her facemask as she walked towards a dark building in the rundown Doornfontein suburb in Johannesburg, where a number of ZIWISA members are based.

“Sometimes only one child can eat and not another,” Musonza told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, adding that the group ZIWISA supports has doubled in size to 2,000 WhatsApp members in several provinces since lockdown began in March.

The municipal government of Johannesburg estimates that more than 1,470 properties in the city have been taken over by people pretending to be the rightful owners.

They rent out single rooms for about R600 a month to up to six tenants at once and cut off electricity when the room is not paid for, said Lucky Sindane, a spokesperson for the city’s anti-fraud and corruption unit.

Some buildings have no electricity at all, and this darkness combined with “experiences of misfortune” have inspired the name “dark buildings”, according to South African academic Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon.

Inside a small room shared with four other people, with a curtain as a door, Cynthia sat on her bed.

“I want to live a better life … in a place I feel safe,” said Cynthia, whose name has been changed to protect her identity.

“But until then I have ZIWISA, which supports us to stand strong during lockdown,” said the 32-year-old, adding that the organisation has helped her and others to leave abusive partners.

FOOD AID

In a basement parking lot in Doornfontein, Musonza was guiding a calm queue of women towards a table so they could tick off their names and collect their food parcels.

During lockdown, which the country began easing out of on June 1, Musonza has been working with South African charity Participate Empower Navigate (PEN) to co-ordinate food aid for hundreds of ZIWISA members living in illegal accommodation under lockdown.

Musonza herself moved to South Africa from Zimbabwe in 1998. Since then she has been a domestic worker and begged on Johannesburg’s streets.

Now she makes ends meet through selling food on the street, but most of her time is dedicated to volunteering full-time for ZIWISA, which she started in 2009.

The ZIWISA WhatsApp group, the main avenue of communication between the women, pings constantly in her pocket as members message her for assistance.

“Many of the women turn towards sex work out of desperation,” said Musonza, adding that by pooling their money the members have helped pay rent for 10 women in dark buildings and saved them from evictions during lockdown.

South Africa’s most recent census figures from 2011 show that more than 3% of the population is made up of “non-South African citizens”.

But estimates vary widely and researchers say it is difficult to collect reliable numbers.

Many of those living in Johannesburg’s inner city are from Zimbabwe, said Musonza, a country where aid groups warn millions face growing levels of hunger due to recurring drought, widespread floods, lost harvests and an economic crisis.

ZIWISA members are a mix of women who have managed to get work permits, others with refugee status and some who have crossed the border illegally, so they have no papers at all, said Musonza.

“I have felt stuck and lonely,” said Siyabonga (whose name was also changed), 48, a single mother-of-three standing in the food parcel queue in the basement parking lot.

During the lockdown, a friend added her to ZIWISA’s WhatsApp group to connect with other women in a similar situation, many who she says now call to check up on her every few days.

“ZIWISA has helped me find a counsellor, get food and feel like I have a home and a family,” she said, as she ticked off her name and collected her food parcel.

DARKNESS

Sheila, 30, lives in a room with her three children in one of Doornfontein’s dark buildings, where wires suspended from the ceilings hold makeshift curtain dividers so they can each have their privacy.

The entire building, which sometimes houses up to 700 people, shares a single toilet, so everyone queues in the morning to use it, she said.

Sheila, who asked not to use her real name, begs on the street for money and struggled to earn enough for rent during the lockdown, as the army patrolled the streets to make sure people stayed indoors.

Only able to pay part of her R600 rent, her electricity was cut off by her landlord during lockdown, plunging her into darkness.

“The hijackers of these buildings are the criminals,” said city spokesperson Sindane, adding that the corruption unit is currently researching hijacked properties.

“There are some criminals like drug dealers who live there, but many are just desperate, innocent people. It is a sad and complicated situation,” said Sindane, who works to return the properties to their original owners.

Sometimes the owners of the dark buildings have left the country, or they are in South Africa but unable or afraid to take back the properties from their illegal occupiers, he explained.

Sindane noted that tenants are only made to leave the property if the legal owner gets a court order for eviction.

“We try to encourage property owners to consider the people living in the building, to try to renovate the property and enter in a new lease agreement with current tenants,” he said.

This does not always happen, said Musonza, who has been evicted from four different dark buildings by owners with eviction orders. But despite the stigma of criminality and danger that they carry, “the dark buildings provide”, she said.

“It is cheap and better than living on the streets. It gives us shelter,” she added, as she walked through a dimly lit passageway in one of the buildings, checking her WhatsApp messages as her phone pinged relentlessly.

“I need to remind these women that despite where they live, they are strong.”

The Thomson Reuters Foundation is the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, covering the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org

*Simon Dippenaar & Associates, Inc. is a firm of specialist eviction lawyers, based in Cape Town and now operating in Johannesburg and Durban, helping both landlords and tenants with the eviction process. Contact one of our attorneys on 086 099 5146 or sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za if you need advice on the eviction process or want to know the cost of eviction.